The Minister for Defence, Michael Smith, has praised the actions of Irish members of the UN peace enforcement mission to Liberia this week, in securing the release of 35 men and women held captive by renegade forces.

The Irish Special Operations Task Group made up of members of the Army Ranger Wing freed captives being held in a 20-foot container by the Government of Liberia forces in the northeast of the country.

It has been reported that the captives had been beaten and some raped.

No one was injured in the rescue operation and the commander of the renegade force and his deputy were arrested.

They are understood to be part of a group loyal to the former Liberian President Charles Taylor.