The warrant follows a request from a United Nations-backed war crimes tribunal in Sierra Leone.

  

The international police organisation, based in Lyon, France, said in documents detailing the warrant - which it calls a Red Notice - that Taylor, 55, was wanted for alleged crimes against humanity and "grave breaches" of the Geneva Conventions.

  

The order stems from the Sierra Leone tribunal's demand that Taylor should be extradited from Nigeria to face charges related to his support for Sierra Leone's main rebel group during the 1990s.

 

Exile

 

The rebel group was involved in a 1991-2001 civil war that killed 200,000 people.

  

Taylor has been living in exile in Nigeria under official protection since August when he resigned his presidency.

 

The former president made way for a transitional peace-building government in Liberia, as rebel fighters closed in on the  capital, Monrovia.

  

He stands accused of gross human rights abuses and large-scale corruption during civil wars in both Liberia and neighbouring Sierra Leone.

  

Nigeria intervened to offer Taylor asylum in order to revive a stalled west African-mediated peace process in Liberia, but has since come under increasing international pressure to hand the exile over to face justice.