Sierra Leone’s War Victims Call On The Government To Declare January 6 a Public Holiday
In the early hours of January 6, l999, rebels of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) launched an offensive against the Sierra Leonean capital, Freetown, capturing it from government troops and the soldiers of the Nigerian-led peacekeeping force known as ECOMOG, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Cease-fire Monitoring Group. Rebels invaded the city and began to torture, rape, amputate limbs, and massacre Sierra Leoneans.
As the rebels took control of the street after street, they turned their weapons on the civilian population. By the end of January, both government and independent sources estimated that several thousands of civilians had been killed. The rebels dragged entire family units out of their homes and murdered them, hacked off the hands of children and adults, burned people alive in their houses, and rounded up hundreds of young women, took them to urban rebel bases, and sexually abused them. As the ECOMOG forces counterattacked and the RUF retreated through the capital, the rebels set fire to neighborhoods, leaving entire city blocks in ashes and over 51,000 people homeless.
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