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The BBC's Allan Little
"Another day of secret talks in unknown jungle locations"
 real 56k

Brigadier Gordon Jones
"We want a quick and safe solution"
 real 28k

Lt Col Tony Cramp, British Forces Sierra Leone
"We're not going to know the full circumstances until the soldiers are released"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 30 August, 2000, 15:07 GMT 16:07 UK
Confusion over UK captives
Royal Irish Regiment
The abducted men are from the Royal Irish Regiment
The British military mission in Sierra Leone has re-asserted that the 11 British soldiers seized by a militia group last week were on a mission to liaise with the UN.

But a UN commander has told the BBC he didn't know what the the troops were doing when they were taken hostage with their Sierra Leonean liaison officer by the rebel West Side Boys.

The hostage negotiators are hoping for more direct contacts with the kidnappers and the captured Royal Irish Regiment soldiers later on Wednesday.

rebel, West Side Boys
Rebels are demanding food, medicine and release of their leader
A group of relatives of the West Side Boys has issued an appeal for the soldiers' release.

Johnny Paul Koroma, a former coup leader, who is now a member of the Sierra Leonean Government, said the delegation was preparing to go to the bush to relay the message directly.

The West Side Boys initially demanded food, medicine and the release from jail of one of their leaders - known as General Papa or Bomb Blast - in return for the troops' freedom.

Discrepencies

The British military spokesman said the discrepencies in the accounts of how the 11 were captured were a matter of timing.

West Africa correspondent Mark Doyle says it remains unclear as to why five days after the kidnappings the British army says that their troops had reached Masiaka, when the UN says they did not.

The deputy commander of the UN peacekeeping force in Sierra Leone, Nigeria's General Mohammed Garba, challenged the British position saying the captured soldiers had been travelling in a dangerous rebel area without telling the UN what they were doing.

About 400 British troops are in Sierra Leone to train a new army.

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See also:

29 Aug 00 | Africa
Who are the West Side Boys?
30 Aug 00 | Northern Ireland
Marching in step with the Royal Irish
19 May 00 | Africa
Concern over missing UN troops
28 Aug 00 | UK Politics
UK presence in Sierra Leone questioned
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