Liberian rebels close in on Monrovia

Liberian rebels on Saturday kept fighting their way closer to the capital of Monrovia even as a defiant Charles Taylor vowed to fight them till the very end.

    Charles Taylor has vowed to fight the rebels till the very end

    Amid the specter of yet another rebel offensive on the capital, a fresh round of bloodbath seemed imminent. A rebel offensive on Monrovia last month had left more than 300 civilians dead.

    “The rebels are over the bridge and the fighting is moving towards the brewery,” said a government commander. The bridge he was referring to is 9 km from Monrovia and the brewery just about 7 km away.

    But LIberia's beleagured president put up a brave face and insisted he would fight the rebels till the last man.

    "We must fight and we will continue to resist to the very
    last man until these murderers stop killing you our people,"
    Taylor told his own Kiss FM radio station.

    The defiant Taylor also came down heavily on the United States for pressing him to step down, which he said had undermined his ability to fight the rebel offensive.

    “What are we fighting for?  The man we are trying to defend has decided to go. So why should we fight to die?”


    -- A government solider

    "I say to the United States, this blood is also on your hands because you have prevented me, the president, from providing adequate assistance and adequate protection for my people,"  Taylor said.

    Locals however said the rebels were making rapid progress and many of President Charles Taylor’s troops were increasingly reluctant to put up a fight.

    “What are we fighting for?  The man we are trying to defend has decided to go. So why should we fight to die,”  asked a government solider.

    Rebels of the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy(LURD) and another group known as Model have been battling government forces to oust President Taylor.

    Though Taylor has agreed to step down and seek asylum in neighboring Nigeria, he is refusing to go unless international peacekeepers led by the United States arrive.

    The US however says it would send a small force only after Taylor leaves.

    As the stalemate drags on, frightened residents of Monrovia gathered again at the US embassy to plead for help.

    “We are running up and down. We are getting old in our hearts,” said Bruno Mensah.  “We are just begging the peacekeepers to come. We are crying for them,” he said teary eyed.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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