UNITED NATIONS (AP) _ The Sierra Leone government, which is fighting a rebel group renowned for mutilating its victims, became the 124th nation Wednesday to adopt an international convention against torture and other cruel punishment.

Ibrahim Kamara, Sierra Leone's ambassador to the United Nations, said his government strongly believes in the convention, as well as one against the proliferation of land mines which it also ratified.

``Although we are at war _ you wouldn't have expected a country at war to sign a convention against the use of torture _ we still believe in the principles of democracy,'' Kamara said after officially depositing Sierra Leone's ratification of both conventions at U.N. headquarters.

Since 1991, the rebel Revolutionary United Front has terrorized the country, killing and mutilating tens of thousands of civilians in a struggle largely aimed at taking control of lucrative diamond fields.

The United Nations has 12,160 peacekeepers in the West African country _ its largest peacekeeping mission in the world. The U.N. Security Council recently voted recently to boost the mission to 17,500 troop.