UK troops leave Sierra Leone
LONDON, England -- British troops are withdrawing from Sierra Leone after a two-year mission.
About 200 troops have been wrapping up their operations over the past couple of weeks following the staging of peaceful elections in the previously war-torn country.
Peace was declared in Sierra Leone in January this year, and the west African country has now held elections and formed a new government.
The British Government has now decided the servicemen can leave with their support ship, the Sir Geraint, whose presence in Freetown Harbour became a symbol of the British forces' work to bring stability to Sierra Leone.
Britain sent troops to the country two years ago as part of a massive United Nations peacekeeping mission which is credited with bringing an end to Sierra Leone's 10-year civil war.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said 100 officers would remain in Sierra Leone to train the country's army.
He said: "It's been an on-going process for quite a while. They the officers will be carrying on in a new role representing the improved situation over there."
Sierra Leone had been torn apart by war since 1991, when rebels of the Revolutionary United Front, or RUF, launched an insurgency to oust the government and take over the nation's lucrative diamond fields.
Tens of thousands of people were killed, while thousands of others were raped or maimed by rebels who chopped off arms and legs with impunity.
After a U.N.-brokered disarmament program, the war was officially declared over in January and free elections were held in May.
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