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Monday, 5 June, 2000, 08:38 GMT 09:38 UK
More soldiers for Sierra Leone
troops in Sierra Leone jungle
Many Sierra Leonean people want troops to stay
An extra team of British soldiers will train and advise the Sierra Leone army when the Royal Marines pull out in a couple of weeks' time.

The Ministry of Defence says it is sending an advance force to the west African country, ahead of the 90-strong military training advisory team (MATT).


UK marines
British marines are due to leave soon
MATT is expected to work with President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah's troops over a period of three years.

But it will not be in place for about six weeks and an MoD spokesman said that, in the interim, the UK will deploy a short-term intensive training team made up of soldiers from the Royal Anglian Regiment and possibly from battalions already in Sierra Leone.

The spokesman said the size of the team had not been finalised but estimates put the figure at about 100 soldiers plus support personnel.

The Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon is expected to make an announcement confirming the details of the training team by the end of the week.

Pull out

In early May, the UK sent hundreds of paratroopers to Sierra Leone to secure the international airport and allow more UN peace-keepers to enter the troubled country.

The paratroopers have now been replaced by 800 Royal Marines from 42 Commando.

Outbreaks of violence from rebel forces have fallen significantly since the troops arrived and President Kabbah requested that a military force stay in the country to avoid a "vacuum".

But the British Government has remained adamant that UK soldiers will leave by mid June.

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