US MARINES EVACUATE AMERICANS FROM LIBERIA

President Bush sent 225 United States Marines into Liberia Sunday morning to rescue Americans from the neighborhood of the American embassy, embattled by a three-way civil war. At least in its first few hours, the White House knew of no gunfire in the operation, which is neutral in Liberia's civil war.

The day before, the 11 Americans missing in the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait were all accounted for. The President spent much of the weekend on the telephone with world leaders in the Middle East, Japan, and West Germany to discuss possible responses to Iraqi aggression. Iraqi troops remained massed on the Saudi border.

The signal, if any, that the Liberia operation sent to the Iraqis was a small one.

``It does, of course, point up that President Bush is extremely concerned about the welfare of American citizens,'' said White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater.

The marines landed in Monrovia, Liberia, by helicopter from four Navy ships offshore. Within an hour, they had fetched American personnel from two communications sites and were shuttling people from the embassy to the ships.

About 70 embassy staff and 300 other Americans remained in Liberia when the operation began. A skeleton staff, including the US ambassador, will remain in the country.

The US embassy is currently in embattled territory and under ``imminent threat,'' according to Fitzwater.

Downtown Monrovia heard shooting Saturday, he said. Water and electricity have been cut off, and fuel is short in much of the city.

President Samuel Doe seized power in a military coup in 1980. He was invaded by rebel leader Charles Taylor about eight months ago. Since then, Prince Johnson has split off a rebel faction, making it a three-way civil war.

The US signal, if nay, that the Liberia operation sent to the Iraqis was a small oe.

``It does, of course, point up that President Bush is extremely concerned about the welfare of American citizens,'' said White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater.

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