Attack breaks Sierra Leone cease-fire

Breaking a week-old cease-fire pledge, pro-government militias attacked rebel positions in Sierra Leone’s diamond-rich east, the United Nations said Friday in an Associated Press (AP) report.

The pro-government fighters were advancing on Koidu, the rebel Revolutionary United Front’s base in Kono district, said Margaret Novicki, the U.N. mission spokeswoman in Sierra Leone.

The attack Thursday came a week after rebels signed a cease-fire pact with pro-government forces following talks in Freetown, the West African nation’s capital, the AP reported.

 

Rebels have waged a 10-year terror campaign in Sierra Leone, killing and maiming thousands of civilians in a war aimed chiefly at toppling the government and controlling the country’s diamond fields.

 

Deployments by Britain and the United Nations have put pressure on the rebels, as have increasing military offensives by neighboring Guinea this year.

 

A few hundred of the rebels’ thousands of fighters have surrendered their weapons in recent days, under the pact reached in the capital.

Pro-government militias-many of them from traditional hunter and fighter societies, with strong belief in magical protection from bullets-are supposed to be disarming as well, the AP reported.