MONROVIA, Liberia — Thousands of refugees have fled fighting between two Liberian rebel groups and are now crammed into the port of Buchanan, relief workers said.
Between 6,000 and 7,000 people are squeezed into the port's two-story Louisa Hotel. Others have taken over homes abandoned earlier by residents who are now returning to find them occupied.
Cecile Guillaume of the French agency Doctors Without Borders told reporters Sunday that many of those arriving were suffering from malaria, cholera and other diseases and that help was urgently needed.
Rebel leader Charles Taylor, whose National Patriotic Liberation Front was a major rebel force in the anarchic country, said Sunday that his men had been driven out of one town by a new armed group, the Liberia Peace Council.
Taylor told Gbarnga Radio that his opponents had captured the town of Tapeta near the border with Ivory Coast and reached Sanoyie, farther east in Bong County via the port of Rivercess.
Taylor said a curfew was in force in Gbarnga and that frightened civilians were fleeing into the forest and to nearby towns.