Liberia, rebels have taken strategic points on the main routes into the capital, Monrovia. Residents in and around Monrovia fear this could be the beginning of a third major rebel assault in the past month.
The Liberian government has confirmed that rebels have taken a strategic bridge over the River Po, about 20 kilometers northwest of Monrovia. They appear poised to enter the capital for the third time since the beginning of June.
Small arms fire and mortars have been heard by aid workers stationed on the city's northern limits. The renewed fighting has sent thousands of civilians streaming into the center of Monrovia, taking with them all they can carry.
The government accuses the rebels of breaking a cease-fire agreement signed last month in Ghana.
The rebels, who control most of Liberia, want President Charles Taylor out of office and out of Liberia immediately. But Mr. Taylor says he won't go until an international peacekeeping force is stationed in Liberia.
Liberia was founded by freed American slaves, and has strong ties with the United States.
Washington has been under pressure to intervene in Liberia, much as the former colonial power, France, has intervened in Ivory Coast, and Britain has restored peace and led peacekeeping operations in its former colony, Sierra Leone.