In April 1996, the Liberian civil war erupted once more. Running intermittently since 1989, war had claimed the lives of more than 200,000 Liberians and was motivated in part by warlords fighting for control of natural resources abundant in Liberia – diamonds, timber and gold. The Liberian Council of State, controlled by Charles Taylor, sent police-militia to arrest rival warlord Prince Johnson, the ULIMO-J leader, on murder charges.

Fighting began between NPFL forces under Taylor and ULIMO-J. In the following seven weeks – before a cease-fire was brokered – 1,500 people were killed and large parts of Monrovia, the capital city, were destroyed.