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Former Liberian Leader Charles Taylor Vanishes from Nigerian Haven


Nigerian government officials say former Liberian leader and war crimes suspect Charles Taylor has disappeared from the house where he was living in exile in Nigeria.

They say Taylor left his villa in the southern town of Calabar Monday night. Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo says he ordered the arrest of all Taylor's security personnel.

Taylor's disappearance came days after the Nigerian government said it was willing to allow Liberia to arrest Taylor. The UN backed war crimes tribunal for Sierra Leone had asked for Nigerian to place Taylor under arrest on charges of rape and torture
related to his rule in Liberia and a civil war in neighboring Sierra Leone.

On Monday, the new Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said Taylor should be sent directly from Nigeria to Sierra Leone to face the war crimes charges. On Sunday, the prosecutor of the war crimes tribunal Desmond De Silva had urged Nigerian
authorities to detain Taylor before he slipped away.

The tribunal has accused Taylor of masterminding civil wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone during the 1990s. Nigeria granted the former leader asylum in 2003 as part of a peace deal to end Liberia's 14 year civil war.

The war crimes tribunal has indicted Taylor on 17 counts. Each count carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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