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Friday, 7 February, 2003, 17:59 GMT
Rebel 'massacres' in Liberia
Queuing up for food in a camp in Monrovia
Thousands have been displaced by the fighting

Ordinary people in Liberia are once again being made to pay in blood and tears as the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (Lurd) rebel forces carry on their campaign against President Charles Taylor.

In the latest upsurge in the fighting this week, the rebels took control of the much fought over town of Tubmanburg, and there have been reports of fighting in other parts of Liberia.

Now one of the MPs from the affected region, representative Sando Johnson, has reported a series of massacres in a number of towns in his county since the latest upsurge in fighting.

He blamed the killings on Lurd rebels.

Market day attack

Mr Johnson spoke of the systematic gunning down of civilians.

Mr Johnson, quoting survivors, alleged that the carnage began in Jorjorma, a hamlet on the Monrovia-Tubmanburg highway, where he claimed 15 civilians were killed in cold blood by the rebels.

According to Mr Johnson, when government forces headed for the town, the rebels slipped away and attacked a group of civilians in nearby Beh-Town where he claimed that scores of people were also slain.

Mr Johnson said the worst killings took place in Cheesemanburg, a small but commercially lively north-western town.

In this town, he said, more than 2,000 people had gathered on a market day and were carrying out normal business activities when the rebels broke into the town.

Mr Johnson alleged that the rebels opened fire on fleeing people in the market, killing several local traders.

Missing

He claimed that women, including pregnant ones, were raped in the process.

Some of those who sustained gunshot wounds have been taken to Monrovia, he said, and many people who ran in various directions when the rebels struck are still missing in the jungle.

Appealing to the government on Friday for help in relocating the people, Mr Johnson said the military situation in the region was so dangerous that civilian administrators could not be left alone to go in search of the missing people.

A displaced boy carries material to build a hut in the camp
More than 1,000 people arrived at a camp in Monrovia this week

Meanwhile, government troops and Lurd rebels are clashing in the town of Gbah on the Ibrahim Babangida highway, the main north-western stretch of road leading to Liberia's border with Sierra Leone.

Defence Minister Daniel Chea said on Friday that rebels involved in the attack on Gbah were some of those who had ambushed the convoy of a senior government commander three days earlier while he was heading for Tubmanburg.

The commander escaped unhurt, but scores of his men and a large number of rebel fighters, were reported to have been killed in the attack.

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's David Bamford
"Reports of confusion and general panic in the Liberian capital"
News, analysis and background from Liberia's conflict and escalating refugee crisis

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07 Feb 03 | Africa
05 Feb 03 | Africa
14 Sep 02 | Africa
03 Aug 02 | From Our Own Correspondent
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