April 16, 1996 in Nation/World

Liberia Blasts Countries For Evacuating Foreigners From Violence-Torn Capital

Associated Press
 

The Liberian government condemned the international community Monday for its retreat, even as rebels violated yet another cease-fire and the looting showed little sign of ending.

A government spokesman criticized the United States’ emergency evacuation, which has flown 408 Americans and 1,560 other foreigners to safety in neighboring Sierra Leone since civil order broke down last Tuesday.

“We do not think that the crisis is deep enough to warrant the airlift of people,” said Reginald Goodridge.

A U.S. helicopter with 14 American Embassy workers flew out of Monrovia on Monday for the 64th mission of the evacuation. Eighteen security officers and Ambassador William Milan remained behind to guard the embassy compound and determine whether more flights are needed for foreigners stranded in Liberia.

U.S. Navy amphibious ships, meanwhile, headed toward the Atlantic coast off Liberia with some 1,500 Marines. On arrival later this week, they will help secure the U.S. Embassy and its nearby residential compound, where some 20,000 Liberians have sought shelter and food.

A cease-fire appeared to be holding for a third day when it was shattered Monday afternoon by an intense firefight between Taylor’s rebel supporters from the National Patriotic Front of Liberia and those of Roosevelt Johnson’s Ulimo-J faction.

Young men wielding guns and machetes still cruised the streets looking for fresh looting opportunities and taking shots at people roaming the streets looking for food and water.

All the shops and office buildings in the capital have been looted and most of them destroyed since government troops and rebels began fighting nine days ago. More than 60,000 Monrovians have been left homeless.

© Copyright 1996 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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