The following, carried by the Associated Press, is a pool report by foreign correspondents in Liberia:

MONROVIA, Liberia, July 12 -- Hundreds of Monrovians fled in panic today after soldiers searched houses in this capital's port area and fired at a fishing boat suspected of carrying rebels.

The latest disturbances came as peace talks began in neighboring Sierra Leone between delegations representing the Liberian rebels and the embattled government of President Samuel K. Doe.

Sources close to Doe said he was packed and ready to flee. They said Doe wants to go to his home region of Grand Gedeh County in eastern Liberia, a stronghold of his minority Krahn tribe. Doe has sent about half of his 1,000-strong presidential guard to Grand Gedeh escorting arms, ammunition and thousands of Krahn civilians.

Government troops fired into the Nigerian Embassy this morning, where 150 Nigerians had sought refuge from the six-month-old civil war. A guard received a minor face wound in the shooting incident.

Troops conducted house-to-house searches in Monrovia's port area, which rebels have attacked twice within the last week. In reaction, hundreds of Monrovians, their nerves shattered by the two-week rebel siege and nightly shooting and looting by Doe's uncontrolled army, fled toward the city center seeking sanctuary.

Troops fired mortars and automatic rifles in the eastern suburb of Paynesville in an apparent counteroffensive, residents said. One witness said the fighting appeared concentrated near Liberia's state radio station, which has been off the air for more than a week.

Rebel leader Charles Taylor has said his fighters would not observe a unilateral cease-fire called by Doe last week and would take Monrovia by the end of this week.

Taylor sent a delegation, however, to the peace talks in Freetown, the Sierra Leone capital. The talks, mediated by the Economic Community of West African States, lasted three hours this morning. Another session was set for the evening.

Before the talks, rebel delegate Thomas Woewiyu said he had "not come to discuss a cease-fire." Woewiyu said the Economic Community of West African States was "a very powerful institution, and we have an obligation to come and hear what they have to say. After all, when all this is over, we will be left broke, and we will need material help from somebody."

The mediation group, which includes the region's military giant, Nigeria, reportedly has proposed a peace-keeping force for Liberia, pending new elections. But the rebels have criticized this proposal, saying they are close to overthrowing Doe.

A source familiar with this morning's meeting said Woewiyu restated the rebels' position that they will lay down their arms only when Doe is gone.