Liberia

The BBC has obtained the first independently verified information about the widespread nature of the rebel war in northern Liberia. Independent medical sources say that in the last few months of fighting hundreds of Liberian Government soldiers have been wounded. It is likely that a similiar number of combatants were wounded or killed on the rebel side as fighting has raged between rebel forces reportedly backed by neighbouring Guinea and Liberian Government troops.

Liberian President Charles Taylor has reacted angrily to the United Nations sanctions imposed on his country on Monday, describing it as "unfortunate and not in the best interest of Liberia and the entire sub-region." He said: "We know that certain countries are bent on seeing that this government leaves office, but the Liberian people will stand united." But how long this "unity" will hold is anyone's guess.

Amnesty International today called on the Liberian government and armed opposition groups based in Guinea immediately to end abductions of women, children and other civilians.

Thousands of Liberian troops have been sent to the country's troubled northern border with Guinea where the rebels control a number of towns. Officials said the troops had launched simultaneous counter-attacks on the rebel held towns of Foya, Kolahun, Vahun, Voinjama and Zorzor.

Four Liberian journalists from an independent Monrovia daily newspaper are due to go on trial today charged with espionage following an article that accused the government of profligate spending on helicopter repairs and Christmas cards.

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