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Sierra Leone: disarmament begins in two more districts, UN Mission reports

Sierra Leone: disarmament begins in two more districts, UN Mission reports

The United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) announced today that disarmament of armed combatants had begun in two more of the country's districts.

When the effort began yesterday, 64 combatants from the Civil Defence Force (CDF) were disarmed in Mongeri, located in the government-controlled Bo District, while three fighters from the rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF) handed in their weapons in Batkanu, Bombali District, at a ceremony attended by UNAMSIL chief Oluyemi Adeniji. Another three RUF and two CDF were reported to have disarmed yesterday in Makeni.

Weapons handed in by the RUF ex-combatants included a G3, an AK-47, a rocket-propelled grenade, bombs and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. In Batkanu, villagers cheered, sang and danced as the weapons were turned over to UNAMSIL military observers and disabled by the ex-combatants.

According to RUF officials, the apparent slow start in the disarmament exercise in Bombali District was due to the choice of the disarmament camp - set up at St. Francis Secondary School by the National Committee for Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration, UNAMSIL said. The RUF's Eldred Collins told UNAMSIL officials that they would have preferred to have used the military barracks in the area.

While conceding that the slow start of the disarmament process was a disappointment, Mr. Adeniji said both parties were committed to the peace process.