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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Heavy Fighting Continues in Liberia

MONROVIA, Liberia -- Government troops, rebels and thieves exchanged heavy weapons fire on the streets of Liberia's seaside capital Friday, speeding the country's descent into chaos.


The United Nations announced Friday it would attempt to get nearly 100 UN workers out of the capital by boat.


"What can we do?" asked Francis Kpatinde, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva. "We can't work, we can't move around. All the factions are silent and we don't know what their intentions are."


Government troops Friday resumed shelling of the military barracks where thousands of supporters of warlord Roosevelt Johnson are holed up. Large explosions were heard throughout the city.


Witnesses said two children were killed and 17 people were wounded by mortar fire at the barracks Friday morning. Shelling the night before killed seven people in a barracks church, witnesses said.


Government troops -- many of whom are former rebels brought into the military when a peace accord was reached last year -- were reportedly ransacking and taking over houses.


"Nowhere is safe, not even your bathroom," said Martha Sebwe, a nurse at the military hospital.


More than 899 people had been evacuated by U.S. military helicopters as of Friday morning, after a harrowing day of looting and fighting between rival rebels and peacekeepers who appeared to join in the thievery Thursday.


"Everything was out of control, complete chaos," U.S. Embassy spokesman Dudley Sims said Friday. "There was widespread looting and fighting all over the city. It seems as if no one had control."


Ghanaian President Jerry Rawlings reportedly had arrived with a diplomatic delegation from members of the Economic Community of West African States to help mediate a potential cease-fire.