The first contingent of an African peacekeeping force has arrived in Liberia to start trying to halt the country's civil war.

Nigerian soldiers arrived at Monrovia's international airport in relays of helicopters from neighbouring Sierra Leone.

It is hoped they will be able to stop the fighting between rebels and government troops in which hundreds of civilians have died.

However, they are not planning to venture into the capital immediately.

In another development, the leader of the rebels besieging the city has said they will withdraw as soon as the peacekeepers arrive.

Sekou Conneh, the head of the so-called LURD rebel movement, was speaking during a visit to Rome.