Framework

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Joseph Duo, a Liberian militia commander loyal to the government, exults after firing a rocket-propelled grenade at rebel forces at a key strategic bridge July 20, 2003 in Monrovia, Liberia. Government forces succeeded in forcing back rebel forces in fierce fighting on the edge of Monrovia's city center.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Chris Hondros / Getty Images

Refugees in Monrovia crowd into the former Masonic lodge that served as a camp for those displaced by the war. Hundreds of thousands of Liberians converged on the capital as they fled fighting during the civil war.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Chris Hondros / Getty Images

People line up in Monrovia to cast ballots during the first round of the Liberian presidential election in 2005.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Tim A. Hetherington

A young male shows off his weapon in a classroom in Tubmanberg, Liberia in June 2003.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Tim A. Hetherington

A teenage girl fights for the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy rebel group. According to one former combatant, becoming a soldier was a matter of "kill or be killed" for many girls. Often, female soldiers lost family members in the war and needed to protect themselves.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Michael Kamber / for the New York Times

Fighters aligned with Charles Taylor's government forces head toward the Po River Bridge to engage advancing rebel forces in July 2003 in Monrovia.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Michael Kamber / for the New York Times

Soldiers with the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) rebel group observe a ceasefire at the "New Bridge" in Monrovia where the ground is littered with spent cartridges August 6, 2003.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Nic Bothma / European Pressphoto Agency

A rebel fighter maintains his position at the "New Bridge" in the rebel-held territory of Freeport, Monrovia in August 2003.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Nic Bothma / European Pressphoto Agency

More than 8,000 people took cover from the fighting in a former Masonic lodge in July 2003. The majority of those displaced by the war arrived by foot from rural areas of the country as the rebels advanced toward Monrovia.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

Johnny Thorpe, 72, holds a photograph of his grandparents who came to Liberia from the United States as freed slaves in 1896. "We are part of them," says Thorpe. "My descendants are from there. They should come here now," said Thorpe, who wanted U.S. military intervention in Liberia.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

Wearing a wig, a government fighter peers out from the former Monrovia offices of the National Bank of Liberia one block from rebel positions in July 2003. Fighters and civilians were living in the bank as the battle continued nearby.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Martin Adler / Panos Pictures

A government militiaman proudly shows off his son. Several dozen fighters and families took refuge in the former offices of the National Bank of Liberia in downtown Monrovia. The central business district is a battle zone populated by fighters and those seeking refuge from the fighting.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Martin Adler / Panos Pictures

Carrying a wounded child, refugees escape an attack from LURD rebel forces in central Monrovia. The wounded had to be carried to hospitals because civilian cars were not moving in the streets.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Q. Sakamaki / Redux Pictures

Desperate for an end to the conflict, demonstrators gathered in Monrovia to call for peace but were chased away by Liberian paramilitary and police forces in July 2003.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Q. Sakamaki / Redux Pictures

Liberians walk past a sign dedicated to U.S.-Liberia relations near the Samuel K. Doe stadium in Monrovia. Many Liberians became increasingly angry with the delay in sending peacekeepers to their war-torn nation, which has strong historical ties to the United States.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ben Curtis / Associated Press

A Liberian woman and child sit with all their possessions surrounded by the rocks they have used to designate their space at the Samuel K. Doe stadium in Monrovia. The stadium was home to more than 30,000 refugees who had fled the fighting.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ben Curtis / Associated Press

Musu Gertee, 7, dances as she plays with neighbors in Monrovia in Liberia in 2004. Musu lost her arm in 2003 after being hit by mortar shrapnel.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Kuni Takahashi

Fayah Samuka, 20, sits in a Monrovia house in 2008. Fayah, a former child soldier for President Charles Taylor's militia, survives on the odd jobs he gets a few times a week.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Kuni Takahashi

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Liberia: Remembering

By Carolyn Cole, Los Angeles Times

Ten years ago the bloody siege of Monrovia marked the culmination of a brutal civil war in Liberia, a West African country originally established as a colony for freed African American slaves. Photojournalists who covered the battles in Liberia’s capital in 2003 captured vivid images of the violence that engulfed the country.

At least 150,000 people were killed in the war and hundreds of thousands became refugees. Many Liberians sought safety in the capital city of Monrovia, as the fighting between rebel and government militias closed in on them. An estimated 15,000 child soldiers were forced into service on both sides of the battle.

Today, the first elected female head of state in Africa, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, leads the country. Under her leadership, education was declared free and compulsory for all elementary school-age children. Although peace continues, the struggle for economic development is slow and most Liberians continue to live on less than $1 per day.

Of the dozen photojournalists who covered Liberia in 2003, three have since lost their lives covering other conflicts; they are Chris Hondros and Tim Hetherington, both killed during a mortar attack in Libya (2011), and Martin Adler, assassinated in Somalia (2006). “Liberia: Remembering” is a photography exhibit presented in their memory and in honor of the thousands of Liberians who lost their lives.

“Liberia: Remembering” is presented by the Chris Hondros Fund and opens at Photoville on Thursday and continues for two weeks in Brooklyn Bridge Park near pier 5 in New York City.

Follow Carolyn Cole on Twitter @Carolyn_Cole

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