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Vigilante gangs, hunger and disease threaten Sierra Leone in wake of coup

With fighting curtailed in Freetown, Sierra Leone's battered capital now faces roaming vigilante gangs, widespread hunger and the threat of disease spread by exposed and rotting corpses.

Relief agencies said Monday the emphasis must now shift toward helping residents get food and medical help, while holding at bay angry crowds bent on settling scores with the military government ousted last week.Freetown is a shambles and a mass effort is needed to clean up the city and bury the dead.

"We are concerned that about 40 bodies at the hospital need to be buried immediately or else they pose a health hazard," said Lise Boudreault, deputy head of the International Red Cross mission to the country.

Junta forces who had been holding out in other towns were surrendering Monday to Nigerian-led West African intervention troops who toppled them last week and are now occupying the capital on behalf of exiled President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah.

At least 118 people were killed in several days of intense fighting and artillery barrages before the intervention force moved fully into the city. Another 700 people, mostly civilians, were wounded in the fighting.

The intervention troops have been given orders to shoot looters and vigilante gangs.