MONROVIA, LIBERIA, JULY 6 -- The following, transmitted by the Associated Press, is a pool report by journalists in Liberia.
Rebels firing heavy artillery attacked the capital's port today near the fortified mansion of President Samuel K. Doe, who is clinging to power with a crumbling army.
The United States supplied water to the president's mansion this morning, a witness said. Four U.S. Marine vehicles escorted a water tanker to the mansion, where Doe was holed up with troops of his minority Krahn tribe.
In Abidjan, capital of neighboring Ivory Coast, diplomatic sources said Doe had asked the United States to ferry him and 100 troops to his home region of Grand Gedeh County. The United States refused the request, which would have enabled Doe to continue the war, the sources said.
A senior U.S. government source in Washington said Doe had mentioned a desire to visit his home region but did not ask for U.S. help in getting there.
The United States has offered to help Doe leave Liberia, a condition set by rebels before they would accept a cease-fire. The civil war began last Christmas Eve when rebels launched an invasion from the Ivory Coast. Doe reportedly has offered to resign if the rebels guarantee his safety and that of the Krahn tribe.
Renewed talks to end the war stalled today because a rebel delegation had not reached the negotiating site in neighboring Sierra Leone.
Today, plumes of smoke from explosions rose from the city outskirts, and automatic rifle and artillery fire echoed across the besieged capital from dawn until noon.
When the rebels arrived at the port at daybreak, they told troops less than two miles from Doe's Atlantic beach fortress to surrender, residents said.
"Don't die for Doe," the rebels reportedly said.
A cannon from Doe's mansion fired two shells into the ocean to deter rebel boats.
A few soldiers raced in pickup trucks toward the port, but most of them abandoned the checkpoints they had manned since the rebel onslaught began Monday.
The troops appeared demoralized and disorganized, and some said they were running short of ammunition and fuel.
One man said he had traveled eight miles from the eastern suburb of Paynesville to the city center without encountering a roadblock.
Witnesses said soldiers also had abandoned the main checkpoint on the capital's western approach road over the Saint Paul River bridge.
Witnesses said the rebels withdrew from the port later in the day.
Soldiers continued to loot in the city during a dusk-to-dawn curfew.