Freed Liberian hostages now in Guinea
August 14, 1999
CONAKRY, Guinea -- Nearly 100 people who had been taken hostage by Liberian rebels arrived in neighboring Guinea on Saturday after being released by their captors.
The former hostages walked across the border bound for Conakry, Guinea's capital, after two days in captivity.
"A total of 96 hostages were released, among them six expatriates -- four British, one Italian and one Norwegian," said Patrick O'Brien, a British diplomat based in Senegal.
"They are now in a Medecins sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders) camp next to the border with Liberia. They are apparently unharmed," he added.
Though Liberia's civil war formally ended in 1997 with elections, there were reports of fighting between government and rebel troops in northern Liberia on Saturday. Government forces were moving toward the town of Voinjama, near the scene of the latest fighting, but the identity of the rebel group was not clear Saturday.
The former hostages had stumbled across the fighting when they were taken prisoner.
Liberian President Charles Taylor ordered the border with Guinea and Sierra Leone closed. Taylor blamed Liberian rebels based in Guinea for the attack, but Guinea has denied any involvement.
The escalation of tensions in the area has triggered concern in West Africa. The 16-member Economic Community of West African States is trying to set up an emergency summit to discuss the situation.
Reuters contributed to this report.
Diplomats, relief groups work to free abducted aid workers in Liberia
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