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W. African Peacekeepers Deploy Outside of Monrovia - 2003-09-10

West African peacekeepers have confirmed they have deployed outside of Liberia's capital, Monrovia, for the first time since their mission began one month ago.

Continued fighting between government militias and rebel groups delayed the deployment of about 600 West African peacekeepers to the central town of Kakata.

The deployment was to take place over the weekend. But fighting between opposing factions continued, and leaders of the peacekeeping unit had to negotiate an end to the skirmishes before they went ahead with the deployment.

Meanwhile, civilians continue to be displaced by both real and rumored fighting in the Liberian countryside. Looting is suspected of being the motivation for much of the continued unrest, which persists after a peace deal was brokered three weeks ago.

Aid workers have warned the poor security situation is seriously impeding the distribution of humanitarian aid in Liberia's hinterland.

Medical workers have reported that rebels have been looting hospitals, taking or destroying the few remaining resources left, including hospital vehicles and fuel supplies.

Next month, the regional peacekeeping force in Liberia is expected to be issued a U.N. mandate and be expanded to 15,000 troops.