- Associated Press - Saturday, December 20, 2014

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (AP) - A Sierra Leone military official says the country is withdrawing from the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia after being blocked from rotating its soldiers over concerns about the spread of Ebola.

Maj. Gen. Samuel Omar Williams, the chief of defense staff, said Saturday the troops currently in Somalia will be sent back to Freetown in January “and will not be replaced.”

In a statement Saturday, the African Union mission said 850 Sierra Leone troops deployed for 12 months starting in 2013, but the AU halted their rotation in response to Ebola, which the World Health Organization says has killed more than 2,400 people in Sierra Leone.

The mission said Sierra Leone’s soldiers will be replaced by soldiers from other countries “until the virus has been fully contained.”

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