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Liberian Rebels Take Country's Second-Largest City


Liberia's second largest city, Buchanan has fallen to rebels from the Movement for Democracy in Liberia, known as MODEL. Government forces have retrenched and are attempting to resume control of Buchanan. MODEL is a different rebel group to that which has maintained a 10 day siege on the capital Monrovia.

Liberia's second city has fallen to MODEL rebels. The government has sent in more troops in a bid to resume control over Buchanan which lies nearly 100 kilometers east of Monrovia. MODEL is a different rebel group to that which has been laying siege to the capital Monrovia for the last 10 days.

Until their latest assault on Buchanan, MODEL had largely adhered to a cease-fire agreement signed earlier this month in Ghana.

MODEL is thought to be backed by the government of Ivory Coast and though it is smaller than the LURD rebel force, it's fighters are considered better disciplined and better armed.

The fall of Buchanan is significant in that it removes the government's access to a port of any size. Liberians United for Reconciliation and Development, Liberia's largest rebel group, already has control of the main port in Monrovia. LURD continued to clash with government forces in Monrovia Monday, where aid workers reported at least seven government soldiers dead and many more injured.

Meanwhile, a meeting of West African leaders closed late Monday without setting any firm date for when a regional peacekeeping force could be expected in Liberia.

Regional peacekeepers were promised for rapid deployment to Liberia on July 9th, but indecision over who is to pay for the force has led to delays.

The United States has contributed $10 million to support the operation, but that would only pay for a few days upkeep of a peacekeeping force of any size. U.S. marines are heading into Liberian waters, but there has been no commitment from Washington to send them in for peacekeeping duties in Liberia.

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