Sierra Leone: List of extremely violent events perpetrated during the War, 1991-2002
The RUF opposed the All People Congress (APC) one-party regime of President Joseph Saidu Momoh, andlater declared that it aimed to restore multi-party democracy in the region. Until June/July 1991 theyenjoyed some limited success, acquiring control of up to a fifth of Sierra Leone. They began to attack SLA(Sierra Leone Army) positions in the south of Kono District. But then a counter-attack by the SLA -supported by Liberian militia forces recruited in the refugee camps (soon organized as ULIMO, the UnitedLiberian Movement for Democracy, cf. Sawyer, 2004: 446) - forced them to retreat and challenged NPFLscontrol of the Liberian side of the border. The RUF then lost control of several towns in the border region.Its Liberian back-up was severely restricted according to Richards, the mercenary section of the RUF leftSierra Leone in 1992 (Richards, 1996: 8).On April 29, 1992 a coup dEtat by dissatisfied junior officers sent to the front paved the way for theestablishment of the National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC), and Captain Valentine Strasser becamehead of state. The war continued, with the RUF pushing from Kailahun into the diamond-rich Kono districtby September of 1992. Its capital Koidu was a major site of conflict during October and remained sothrough much of the rest of 1993. The SLA began to use the help of local civil militias to fight the RUF.By December , the RUF had lost control of Koidu, Pendembu and Kailahun town, and was thought to haveeffectively lost the war. The NPRC declared a unilateral ceasefire and this marked the beginning of a newphase.During this period, the war developed into what can be seen as a more conventionalwar especiallycompared to the rest of the conflict on two fronts ( in the Kailahun and Pujehun Districts), with civiliansettlements treated as strategic targets. Suitably, the TRC referred to this period as a ConventionalTargetWarfare(TRC, 2004, vol. 2, ch. 2, § 125-131), even though this notion of conventionality shouldbe used with caution. Civilian settlements were targeted by the RUF as military objectives (for control of the territory and recruitment), which resulted in systematic forced displacement of the population. The RUFtargeted and killed individuals with political, economic and social power (Richards, 1996, p. 8). Themercenary part of the RUF movement also used terror and looting tactics in an excessive manner, but on alimited scale during this period (Richard, 1996; TRC, 2004, vol. 2, ch. 2, §382). While the SLA apparentlycommitted only a few acts of violence against civilians during the first part of the war, there arenevertheless reports that suspected collaboratorswith RUF were killed, as the SLA slowly began toadopt RUF-like tacticsafter the NPRC coup. 10,000 people may have died from 1991 to 1992, accordingto Zack-Williams (Zack-Williams, 1999).** (Gberie, 2005: 58-79; Richards, 1996; Zack-Williams, 1999; Amnesty International, 1996a: 11; NoPeace without Justice, 2004; TRC, 2004, vol. 2, ch. 2, § 125-131; Sawyer, 2004: 446; Keen, 2005: 84-106)
1991 (from March): The RUFs inland-moving campaign.
During their first two attacks on March 23, onBomaru and Sienga (two villages on the Liberian border of Kailahun district) the RUF killed one SierraLeonean army major, one lieutenant and eleven civilians, looted the towns and withdrew into Liberia aftertroops from the neighboring Daru barracks counter-attacked,according to Lansana Gberie.He alsomentions that the NPFL had conducted other attacks earlier in Sierra Leonean territory (for example, onDecember 18, 1990) (Gberie, 2005: 59).From March to July, as they were advancing through Kailahun and Pujehun Districts and then acrossBonthe, Bo, Kenema and Kono Districts, RUF/NPFL forces abducted civilians to recruit them ascombatants, or to carry looted property and perform domestic tasks. Around 800 civilians may have beenabducted to work in farms in Kailahun District in July (No Peace without Justice, 2004: 73). Some of thoseforces specifically those following instructions from Charles Taylors NPFL according to several sources(Richards, 1996; TRC, 2004, vol. 2, ch. 2, § 382) killed civilians, including , according to NPWJ,possibly 100 people in Pujehun District in June and 62 people in Kailahun District in July (No PeaceWithout Justice, 2004: 73). They are also reported to have also tortured civilians, committed sexual crimes,burned civilian residences, and targeted government and traditional authorities (all in unknown numbers).Paul Richards contests that in order to compensate for its limited numbers of troops and occupation