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Liberian Troops Recapture Rebel Town

June 8, 2002

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MONROVIA, Liberia (AP) _ Liberian troops recaptured a northern town believed to have been used by insurgents as a transit point for supplies and rebels fighters based in neighboring Guinea, the defense minister said Saturday.

But even as troops retook the border town of Jorwah, government forces were being attacked by rebels elsewhere in the north, Defense Minister Daniel Chea said.

Chea gave no details on when Jorwah was recaptured and there was no independent confirmation of the town’s fall. Independent journalists are prohibited from visiting active battle-zones.

Chea said rebels on Friday attacked the northern town of Vahun. He said fighting was continuing there on Saturday, as well as in Kolahun, Voinjama, Bopolu and Tubmanburg.

``The terrorists have raided and killed people in those places, but we are doing all we can so that they don’t sit there,″ Chea said of the rebels.

Chea made the comments during a meeting with a five-member delegation from the Economic Community of West African States that arrived Friday on a fact-finding mission aimed at securing peace in the region.

The mission was approved when ECOWAS heads of states and government representatives met in the Ivory Coast from May 17-19 to discuss the Liberian crisis.

Delegation head Nigerian Col. James Oladipo said his team was due Saturday to visit Klay and Gbah to talk to civilians displaced by the war. Both towns, several dozen miles from the capital, have been the scene of recent fighting.

Liberia’s rebels have stepped up attacks recently against President Charles Taylor’s government, and fighting has been reported in five of the country’s 15 counties.

Taylor, a former warlord who won presidential elections in 1997, accuses neighboring Guinea of helping the insurgents and allowing them to launch cross border raids from Guinean territory. Guinea denies the charge.

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