Though at first they were popular with Sierra Leoneans, public opinion on them changed when they became violent with their takeover and management of the diamond mines. The rebel group—which recruited children—went on a violent rampage, attacking villages and killing or mutilating anyone who got in their way and others who did not. Thought the Sierra Leone Army attempted to fight back, the situation was made worse by the fact that the SLA could sometimes be just as violent as the RUF.
There were also stories of SLA soldiers switching sides, and these stories were only made worse by the fact that RUF soldiers would often wear stolen soldiers uniforms. The NFRC got the EO to fight back against the RUF. Within ten days, they had forced the RUF back from Freetown, and within a month the diamond mines had been cleared of RUF soldiers. By 1996, the force of the RUF was severely damaged since they had been forced away from the diamond mines that had funded their fight. After continuing EO attacks, the RUF announced a cease-fire and sought peace talks.
That November, Foday Sankoh signed a peace agreement, and President Kabbah agreed to the expulsion of the EO within five weeks of the agreement. The RUF were given acknowledgement as a political party, and they were absolved from their war crimes. However, the RUF attacks began once more after EO forces were removed, leaving the government exposed. A jail break freed Major Johnny Paul Koroma, who started the AFRC and took over the government, joining forces with the RUF. This period of rule was characterized by the complete breakdown of law and order and the collapse of the economy.
However, in 1998, ECOMOG forced AFRC/RUF out of Freetown in a fierce battle, leading to the restoration of President Kabbah to office. Though Kabbah tried to demobilize the AFRC/RUF, they continued their rampage across the country throughout the conviction of key players, including Foday Sankoh. However, the Lome Peace Agreement was eventually signed by both Sankoh and Kabbah. Both parties issued a Declaration of the End of the War on January 18, 2002, leading to the complete disarmament and demobilization of the RUF.