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March 28, 2003
 
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Gunmen in Liberia Abduct Aid Workers
Gunmen in Liberia Abduct Several Workers From U.N. and Other Aid Agencies

The Associated Press


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MONROVIA, Liberia March 28

Gunmen in war-torn Liberia abducted four U.N. workers and an unknown number of employees from other aid agencies, the U.N. World Food Program said Friday.

The four Liberian nationals two drivers, a food monitor and a store keeper were kidnapped Thursday in the town of Zwedru, on the Ivory Coast border, a U.N. statement said.

The other aid workers also were taken at that time, the statement said, as fighting raged on between government troops and rebels.

Details on the gunmen weren't known and no further information was available. The abductions were the latest attacks against aid workers in the lawless border region, where government troops and rebels from both countries, and Liberian mercenaries roam.

Three aid workers for the Adventist Development and Relief Agency were killed in the region this month, while several aid workers for the Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross were killed earlier this year just across the border in Ivory Coast.

A refugee camp at Zwedru 180 miles east of Liberia's capital, Monrovia is housing some 6,000 people who have fled their homes due to strife in Liberia and Ivory Coast.

Fighting has intensified in Liberia in recent days as rebels have been making their closest-ever advance toward the offices of warlord-turned-President Charles Taylor in downtown Monrovia, the country's capital.

The Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy, or LURD, forces have been fighting since 1999 to oust Taylor.

Liberia's Defense Minister Daniel Chea blamed the fighting on the rebel Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy, or LURD, who have battled since 1999 to oust Taylor.

The insurgents in a statement Friday denied operating in Zwedru.

Aid groups estimate that fighting has forced nearly one-third of Liberia's 3-million people from their homes in recent years.

Taylor, the central warlord in Liberia's 1989-1996 civil war, was elected president in 1997.

Copyright 2003 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 
 
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