Diamond Mining Banned in Eastern Sierra Leone

July 18, 2001

Diamond Mining Banned in Eastern Sierra Leone

The Sierra Leone government, Revolutionary United Front rebels and United Nations officials agreed Tuesday to ban mining in Sierra Leone's eastern diamond region to help the disarmament process, Reuters reports. Fighting between RUF rebels and pro-government militia over the diamond mining areas has held up disarmament in the region. The mining ban begins today, but it's not clear how it will be enforced – illegal diamond diggers have avoided capture in that area for more than 40 years.

At Tuesday's meeting between the Sierra Leone government, RUF representatives and U.N. officials, rebels and government forces also agreed to dismantle their checkpoints throughout the Kono diamond region, Reuters reports. In addition, the group agreed to ban fighters from carrying weapons in Kono unless the arms were being taken to disarmament points.

In other conflict news, Angola's UNITA rebels reportedly attacked a residential area in diamond-rich northeast Angola killing 70 people and injuring 15, the Portuguese news agency Lusa reports. As many as 100 gunmen were involved in the attack, which is one in a string of recent attacks by UNITA.

- by Julia M. Duncan