MONROVIA, LIBERIA, JULY 8 -- The following, transmitted by Reuter, is a pool report from journalists in Liberia:
Rebels retreated to the outskirts of Monrovia today and a spokesman said insurgents surrounding the besieged West African capital wanted to spare civilian lives.
President Samuel K. Doe on Friday announced a cease-fire in the six-month-old civil war, but the rebels led by Doe's former associate, Charles Taylor, have not said whether they have agreed to it. There were no reports of new fighting.
Soldiers, who have been on shooting and looting sprees each night since the rebels attacked the capital a week ago, said they believed the rebels had withdrawn.
Infighting among the rebels was reported at the beginning of last week by residents contacted by radio behind rebel lines in northern Liberia. A breakaway faction led by Prince Johnson was reported to have ousted guerrillas of Taylor's National Patriotic Front of Liberia from an area in Bong County.
Monrovians ventured out during the lull to find roads littered with bodies shot during the fighting, mainly by the army, witnesses said. One witness said he saw bodies of 16 civilians, including two small children, shot near Monrovia's port.
Soldiers went to the main John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital to ask for 86 body bags Saturday to take to an eastern suburb near the main Robertsfield international airport, where a battle raged for much of last week.
Residents said they had also seen soldiers bury about 20 bodies on a beach less than a mile from Doe's fortified oceanside mansion.
Diplomats have expressed fears that a rebel takeover might lead to revenge killings against the Krahn tribe, which forms the backbone of the army, and the Mandingo, closely associated with Doe's regime.
Doe drove unannounced from his mansion, which is crammed with food and ammunition, to tour near-empty streets Saturday afternoon. Few civilians cheered the president, who waved his general's cap in greeting from the back of a jeep. But soldiers fired into the air in salute. Some people ran indoors when they heard he was coming, witnesses said.
Doe's attempt to show all was not lost was accompanied by a broadcast on a makeshift radio from the mansion appealing for calm. State radio's main transmitter has been off the air since the rebel onslaught.
The broadcast said soldiers caught looting would be executed. It urged shopkeepers to open stores and appealed to people in essential services to go back to work.
Monrovia's 500,000 people have been without water and electricity for more than a week. Some have been reduced to foraging for food because markets are closed.
The radio asked electricity workers to go to the city's backup thermal power station, which has not worked since a hydroelectric plant fell behind rebel lines.