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Liberia convicts 13 men for cross-border raids targeting neighboring Ivory Coast

A defense lawyer says a court in Liberia has found 13 men guilty of cross-border "mercenary activity" in neighboring Ivory Coast.

Tiawan Gongloe said Wednesday the men were convicted for their role in attacks targeting villages in western Ivory Coast in 2011 and 2012.

Eastern Liberia became a haven for fighters loyal to former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo when he was removed from office in 2011 following postelection violence. In 2012 Human Rights Watch said dozens of Gbagbo loyalists were staging attacks from the border region.

An attack in western Ivory Coast in June 2012 killed seven U.N. peacekeepers from Niger, sparking international pressure on Liberia to curb mercenary activity.

This week's verdict was the first under the country's mercenary law, which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.