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Sierra Leone Rebel Leader Sam "Mosquito" Bockarie Reported Shot Dead - 2003-05-06


The Liberian government says former Sierra Leonean rebel commander and fugitive war crimes suspect Sam Bockarie has died after a shootout with Liberian forces.

A government statement said soldiers tried to arrest Mr. Bockarie Tuesday after he and a group of followers were spotted crossing into the country from neighboring Ivory Coast.

The Special Court for Sierra Leone indicted Mr. Bockarie and fellow fugitive Johnny Paul Koroma for atrocities during Sierra Leone's civil war. The court has also accused Liberia of sheltering both men -- a charge Liberia has denied.

On Sunday, the court said Mr. Bockarie has been located in Kanhple, a small village near the Ivorian border. It also said Mr. Koroma was in the Foya Kamala area, in Liberia's northern Loma County, heading a force of fighters loyal to Mr. Taylor.

The U-N-backed Special Court is preparing to prosecute those accused of atrocities during Sierra Leone' s civil war.

Mr. Bockarie and Mr. Koroma are the only fugitives among the eight individuals facing charges of war crimes.

In related news, The United Nations Security Council has voted to extend sanctions against Liberia for another 12 months to stop further fighting in West Africa. The resolution, adopted unanimously Tuesday, states that Liberia continues to support armed groups operating in the region.

It says the Liberian government is actively supporting Ivory Coast rebels and Sierra Leonean mercenaries. The sanctions package extends the two year-old arms embargo on Liberia and keeps the ban on the country's diamond exports. It renews a travel ban on President Charles Taylor and other senior officials and adds an embargo on Liberia's lucrative timber exports.

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