Sierra Leone

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FREETOWN, SIERRA LEONE -- Taking advantage of a Red Cross-brokered cease fire, U.S. Marine helicopters flew another 1,200 foreign residents out of the beleaguered West African capital today, bringing the total number of evacuees to approximately 2,400 since Friday. The break in fighting allowed the rescue of many people from the beach front Mammy Yoko hotel, which had became the site of intense fighting since Nigerian troops made it their command post. Estimates of the number of military casualties range from a dozen to nearly 50 in Monday's fighting. So far, there are no reports of civilian death, but ten of the evacuees were carried out to helicopters on stretchers. For most of those caught in the crossfire, it was a harrowing ordeal, one that included being robbed by rebel soldiers loyal to coup leader Maj. Johnny Paul Koroma. They've made the area "a very dangerous place," said Ann Wright, the American Embassy official overseeing the evacuation. "These are a bunch of thugs and lunatics, having a free reign of terror with the army joining in."