Irish troops prepare for UN mission in Liberia

THREE days of major exercises are taking place in Cork to prepare members of the 1st Southern Brigade for a tour of duty in Liberia.

The exercises, which include simulated roadside bombs, anti-ambush drills and casualty evacuations, got underway yesterday at Lynch Camp, Kilworth and Fort Davis, near Whitegate.

Troops will be familiarised with boarding helicopters and tomorrow they will storm Fort Davis in a simulated airborne assault.

In total, 350 troops who will form the 95th Infantry Battalion, are being trained for the United Nations mission and will fly out to the African country on May 11. Prior to that they will be reviewed at Stephen’s Barracks, Kilkenny, by Minister for Defence Willie O’Dea.

Their tour will last six months.

Irish troops first became involved with Liberian missions in November 2003. They were called in to keep the peace in a country torn by civil war and are currently deployed as a ‘quick reaction force’.

A spokesperson for the Defence Forces said the situation there was “relatively peaceful” at the moment.

Irish troops were recently involved in guarding Liberia’s former dictator, Charles Taylor. He was apprehended in Nigeria and extradited back to Liberia where he is to answer charges of war crimes.

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