UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. Security Council lavished rare praise Wednesday on Sierra Leone, a country once known for “blood diamonds” and rebels chopping limbs off innocent civilians, which now contributes soldiers to U.N. peacekeeping missions and aspires to be a middle-income country by 2030.

At a meeting formally wrapping up 15 years of U.N. peacekeeping and peacebuilding in Sierra Leone, the council commended “the remarkable achievements” made by Sierra Leone over the past decade in strengthening institutions that are crucial to safeguarding stability and promoting democracy. The council also commended “the effectiveness” of the United Nations, international financial institutions, regional groups and the international community in building peace in the West African nation after a long and bloody civil war that began in 1991 when rebels launched an insurrection to seize control of the government and diamond mines.

By the late 1990s, rebels from the Revolutionary United Front had begun targeting civilians, making a trademark out of hacking off the limbs of those victims they allowed to live. In May 2000, the rebels seized about 500 U.N. peacekeepers and kept 233 others surrounded for 2 1/2 months, severely embarrassing the United Nations and prompting a reassessment of the U.N. mission.

The U.N. force, which had an initial ceiling of 6,000 troops when it was first authorized in 1999, was beefed up to a high of 17,500 troops in March 2001. The civil war ended less than a year later, in January 2002.

Sierra Leone’s President Ernest Bai Koroma said in a statement that the council’s inspiring words provided “healing therapy for a country that has emerged from a massively devastating … internal conflict,” and “crowns” the success of the country’s transition from war to peace.