Fourteen Allegedly Executed in Liberia?

Unconfirmed but reliable sources in Monrovia say 14 top security men loyal to President Charles Taylor have been secretly executed on charges of plotting to assassinate the president. The sources further said 40 others are unaccounted for, but there is yet no official confirmation of the executions.

An official of an African Embassy in Monrovia, requesting anonymity, however, confirmed hearing of the alleged executions but provided no further details. The official said President Taylor had publicly accused some of his top security entourage of plotting to overthrow his regime.

Intense accusations against President Taylor for his alleged backing of Sierra Leone's Revolutionary United Front (RUF) has led to security unease in the country, with Taylor claiming that Washington and London want to overthrow his regime. He recently warned of a CIA plot to destabilize West Africa.

Secrete executions since Taylor became president have become common. Seven officers of the Armed Forces of Liberia, all members of the late President Samuel Doe's tribe, were secretly executed in September 1998 following a clampdown on Krahns, according to the US State Department report. At the time, President Taylor claimed that the executed men had attempted to escape from tight security detention, and that they were shot in a gun battle with government security forces. Presidential bodyguards executed several government opponents, including a 35-year old woman Nowah Flomoh, and Opposition politician Samuel Dokie along with his wife and two family members, in 1998. The cases remained unsolved.

Sources link to Taylor say nearly all top security men (Special Forces) who were trained in Libya with the President have all been executed. Many were shot for betrayal during the war years.

Meanwhile, sources in Monrovia say all the country's international airport has been fortified by forces of the "Anti-Terrorist Unit (ATU), " the President's elite forces. No immediate official explanation was available; sources say the move was made to conceal the arrival of huge influx of arms into the country as the war in Sierra Leone intensifies.

Liberia is officially under UN arms embargo, but in the past, arms have come from underground dealers and from Burkina Faso. Leaders of West African states recently pledged to lobby the UN for the lifting of the embargo but this is unlikely due to the country's link with the Sierra Leone war.

The London-based authoritative paper, African Confidential, in its recent article, said "From the frenetic military activity, the arms shipments to rebel-held Kono and the radio rhetoric from Monrovia officials, another major Liberian military operation is in train. Irritatingly for Taylor's government, Kabbah's government and the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone now get good aerial reconnaissance reports of activity across the border.

The paper noted that: "There is also far more human intelligence available from former Sierra Leone Army (SLA) soldiers who fought alongside the RUF and from some recent operations behind the rebel lines, we hear. All this clearly shows trucks loaded with weapons, food and medicine going from Liberia into Sierra Leone along the three major RUF supply routes. One report suggests that a helicopter lent to Taylor by Libya's Col. Moammar el Gadaffi to ferry UN hostages back to safety (500 were captured by the RUF at the beginning of May) had been used to resupply RUF forces."

It observed that: Taylor's "real focus is the diamond country of Kono District, home to the rich alluvial deposits along the River Sewa There, the RUF and its Liberian and Burkinabè allies are prepared to make their last stand. The RUF has been in continuous control of Kono since November 1998, when it attacked in flying columns (highly mobile guerrilla units) in tactics developed by ex-South African Defence Force Colonel Fred Rindle. Along with other tactical specialists drawn from the apartheid SADF (Rindle was a liaison officer for P.W. Botha's regime and Jonas Savimbi's rebels in Angola) Rindle trained and equipped the RUF units to operate alongside Liberian and Burkinabè fighters."

The country's Minister of Information also admitted recently what the Government had all along---that its forces are being trained by members of Apartheid South Africa's Special Forces. But he said the refusal of countries like the US to train Liberian soldiers has forced it turn to other sources.

According to the Agreement that ended the Liberian war, West African Peace Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) was given the responsibility to train the postwar Liberian Army. But upon assuming office, Taylor disputed the Agreement and transformed his rebel National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) into a national army. Since then, several security groups emerged.

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