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Nigeria Arrests Taylor, Will Deport Him


Authorities in Nigeria say they have arrested Liberia's former president, Charles Taylor, and are sending him back to his homeland to face war-crimes charges.

The former Liberian leader's mysterious disappearance had been reported just 24 hours earlier. A Nigerian national police spokesman says he was detained early Wednesday while apparently trying to flee across into Cameroon.

In Abuja, senior Nigerian government officials say Taylor will be repatriated immediately. Widespread criticism has descended on Nigeria since authorities revealed that the fugitive Liberian leader vanished Monday from the lavish villa at Calabar, in the southeast, that Nigeria has provided for him since 2003.

There has been no comment yet from Mr. Obasanjo, who is in Washington, preparing to meet President Bush at the White House.

One account from the Cameroon border region in Nigeria's Borno state indicates Taylor was trying to flee Nigeria by car. A local trader who witnessed the arrest tells the French news agency that suspicious customs officers uncovered Taylor's identity, after a search of his car turned up large quantities of cash.

Police in Borno say Taylor was detained at the Gamboru-Ngala border crossing, a remote outpost in arid northeastern Nigeria.

Taylor has been living in exile in Nigeria since 2003, when he left Liberia as part of a peace deal to end the country's 14-year civil war. A United Nations-backed court in Sierra Leone has been trying to arrest him for 17 counts of crimes against humanity, for his actions while in power in Liberia and his support for rebel forces in neighboring Sierra Leone.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.