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Liberian Rebels Hand Over Monrovia

August 14, 2003

MONROVIA, Liberia (AP) _ Rebels surrendered control of their territory in Monrovia on Thursday, including the vital port, lifting their two-month siege of Liberia’s starving capital, and scores of American troops came ashore to boost the peacekeeping mission.

U.S. Ambassador John Blaney and rebel chief of staff Abdullah Sherrif shook hands in the center of a bridge marking the front-line of the war-divided capital, signalling the rebel handover.

Small numbers of West African peace forces and U.S. Marines crossed into rebel territory after the ceremony. Other West African peacekeepers held back tens of thousands of civilians massed on both sides of the New Bridge.

At least four West African military vehicles went directly to the port, control of which is crucial to getting food and other aid flowing again, particularly to the famished government-held side of the capital.

No rebel soldiers could be seen from the bridge. It was not immediately clear if the insurgents had complied with their pledge to pull out of the city entirely by noon Thursday.

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