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Friday, 2 June, 2000, 19:34 GMT 20:34 UK
UN moves to Sierra Leone frontline
Indian peacekeepers at a check point in Freetown
Indian peacekeepers are already on the streets of Freetown
The United Nations force in Sierra Leone has sent a large column of combat-ready troops to the front line where rebels have been trying to advance on the capital, Freetown.

The movement of some 500 Indian UN peacekeepers is the most significant step the UN has taken since it suffered a series of disastrous setbacks to its operation in Sierra Leone, notably the capture of hundreds of its troops.

The French News Agency AFP, quoting the head of the UN mission in Sierra Leone Oluyemi Adeniji, said the troops were to take up positions around the strategic Rogberi Junction near to where two foreign journalists and four government troops were killed.

Rogberi Junction lies some 18 kilometres (12 miles) west of the key town of Lunsar on the sole road into the town.

It is understood that the peacekeepers plan to dig in along the main road to the capital, so leaving the government forces free to take the fight to the rebels further inside the rural areas.

The UN has suffered a series of humiliations in recent weeks, but the Indian peacekeepers in the armed convoy said they were intent on reversing these setbacks.

Mandate review

A UN trouble shooting team is also expected in Freetown to review its operations there. The seven-strong team is headed by former assistant UN secretary general Manfred Eisele.

Mr Adeniji said: "They are coming here to determine what needs to be done... to see that we are able to meet our mandate."



If we are shot we will shoot back

Oluyemi Adeniji, UN Sierra Leone representative
Mr Adeniji has attracted stiff criticism for the recent debacle of the UN mission in Sierra Leone.

Diplomats in Sierra Leone they could not remember so early an assessment of a UN mission, even in other UN failures in Somalia, Rwanda or Angola.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has staked UN credibility on the mission in Sierra Leone - now the largest UN peacekeeping mission in the world.

Mr Annan has suggested a need for a review of the mandate. During a media briefing to international journalists he called for a general robust mandate for UN peace keeping missions around the world.

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See also:

01 Jun 00 | UK Politics
Army defends Sierra Leone leaflets
27 May 00 | UK Politics
UK troops 'out by June'
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