Three rival armies have raped, looted and pillaged Liberia for 11 months, and there seems to be no end to the brutal civil war.
An estimated 10,000 civilians have been killed and more than half the nation's 2.3 million people are refugees.Soldiers sent by five other West African countries to stop the fighting are using both bombs and propaganda leaflets in an attempt to persuade rebel leader Charles Taylor to end the war he started.
It began Dec. 24, when Taylor led his rebels into Liberia from neighboring Ivory Coast to oust the government of President Samuel Doe, who was accused of corruption, human rights abuses and violent repression.
Thousands of peasants, including children as young as 8, joined Taylor and overran most of the country.
A dissident faction that broke with Taylor's National Patriotic Front captured Doe and tortured him to death in September. Then the 8,000-member West African force moved in with tanks and planes, drove Taylor's forces out of eastern Monrovia and stopped fighting in the capital.
A Nigerian newspaper, the Lagos Guardian, said Saturday the West African force had surrounded the rebel-held port of Buchanan and expected to take it within a week.
After the West Africans reopened Monrovia's Spriggs Payne Airfield to helicopters and light aircraft this month, some members of an interim government were flown in. Taylor has his own administration in the interior and rejected the interim government, chosen by exiled Liberians.
Amos Sawyer, a veteran leftist opposition leader who is president of the interim government, was shuttling among West African capitals last week in pursuit of a cease-fire.
The other warring parties - the Liberian army and rebels led by Prince Johnson - have said they welcome the interim government and its mandate to organize fair elections.
Interim government spokesman Edward Dunn said, however, that Johnson sent a letter threatening some of the ministers. Dunn, the government protocol officer, said Johnson warned some to stay away from Monrovia, including Baccus Matthews, the interim foreign minister, and Gbai Bala, a former adviser to Doe.