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The Sierra Leone Civil War (1991–2002)

The Sierra Leone Civil War was an armed conflict in the West African country of Sierra Leone from 1991–2002. The war began on March 23, 1991, when the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) under Foday Sankoh, with support of Liberian rebel leader Charles Taylor and his group, the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NFPL), attempted to overthrow the government of Sierra Leonean President Joseph Momah. The Sierra Leone Civil War was one of the bloodiest in Africa resulting in more than fifty thousand people dead and half a million displaced in a nation of four million people. The conflict was particularly violent and long because both the RUF and the Sierra Leone government were often funded by “blood diamonds” mined with slave labor.

During the first year of the war, the RUF took control of the diamond-rich territory in eastern and southern Sierra Leone. On April 29, 1992, President Joseph Momah was ousted in military coup led by Captain Valentine Strasser who created the National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC). Strasser said the corrupt Momah could not resuscitate the economy, provide for the people of Sierra Leone, and repel the rebel invaders.

In March 1993, the Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) sent mostly Nigerian troops to Freetown, the capital, and assisted the Sierra Leone Army in recapturing the diamond districts and pushing the RUF to the diamond districts and pushing the RUF to the Sierra Leone-Liberia border. By the end of 1993, many observers thought the war had ended because the RUF ceased most of its military operations. Yet what had begun as a civil war now had international implications as the Sierra Leone government was supported by ECOMOG, Great Britain, Guinea, and the United States while the RUF was backed by Liberia (now under the control of Charles Taylor), Libya, and Burkina Faso.

In March 1995, the Sierra Leone government hired Executive Outcomes (EO) a South Africa-based mercenary group to defeat finally the RUF. Meanwhile, Sierra Leone installed an

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