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Monday, 25 September, 2000, 14:11 GMT 15:11 UK
Liberia turns up the heat
Sierra Leonean refugees in Guinea taking refuge at the embassy
Liberian and Sierra Leonean refugees in Guinea have been attacked
The Liberian Government has said it has launched a "massive offensive" against rebels fighting in the north of the country.

It has also described the shelling of villages in the Zorzor district of the country by Guinean forces as an act of provocation tantamount to full-scale war.


The information ministry in Monrovia, which claimed heavy artillery had been used, said several civilians had been wounded in the attack on Friday.

Liberia accuses Guinea of providing shelter to dissidents fighting troops in northern Liberia, while Guinea claims Liberia has been behind a series of cross border raids into its territory.

The most serious raid took place last Sunday in the village of Macenta and lead to the death of several people including the local head of the United Nations refugee agency, the UNHCR.

'Expel dissidents'

A report broadcast on Liberian radio said the government has launched "a massive offensive in a bid to expel dissidents from Liberia once for all".

Liberian President Charles Taylor
Taylor: Arranging the repatriation of Liberians in Guinea
According to a statement from the Ministry of Information, government forces are pursuing the dissidents to the high hills in a bid to destroy them.

The area is close to the border with Guinea.

Refugee rescue

The government has also promised to repatriate its nationals inside Guinea following reports of attacks against Liberians and Sierra Leoneans there.

It has also filed an official protest with the WEst African regional grouping, Ecowas, outlining what it describes as a series of provocations by Guinea.

Guinea hosts about 500,000 refugees who have fled conflicts in Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Abuses

The New York-based Human Rights Watch organisation has accused the Guinean Government of inciting armed attacks against Sierra Leonean and Liberian refugees in the country.

They released first hand accounts from women who say they were raped and from refugees whose homes were looted.

At least one refugee is reported to have died in detention.

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See also:

15 Sep 00 | Africa
Guinea: Crisis long in the making
12 Sep 00 | Africa
Guinea refugee tension rises
10 Sep 00 | Africa
No halt to Guinea crackdown
26 Jul 00 | Africa
Thousands flee Liberian fighting
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