July 20, 2003
Rebels pounded Monrovia with mortars and pushed deeper into the northern suburbs, before being repelled by government forces into the port area.
The bridges leading from Bushrod Island directly into downtown Monrovia present are the easiest approach for any force attacking from the north, but the terrain also leaves attackers exposed to defensive fire from the city center's higher ground.
Government militia fighters repeatedly charged down towards the bridge spans, firing automatic rifles toward a bank of warehouses until the rebels fell back in early afternoon.
This retreat may have been a rebel bait-and-switch move, since another LURD group fought its way almost two kilometers down a highway that eventually circles around to the base of the capital peninsula. LURD gained control of a third bridge and moved into the northern suburb of New Georgia, from where they were positioned to move on downtown Monrovia from the east. If successful, Taylor and his forces would be could be cut off and bottled up.
By that afternoon, the French medical group Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) had received one dead and about 90 injured civilians. The British aid group Merlin treated 30 more civilians, while the city's main John F. Kennedy hospital received more than 60 wounded (most of them soldiers) and the Red Cross trauma unit in Monrovia took in 100 seriously wounded patients (mostly civilians).
The fighting continued into the night, with LURD insisting they were only trying to pressure Taylor to step down. The United States called for an immediate end to fighting in Liberia and urged the country's neighbors to block the flow of arms to combatants. - Adam Geibel