The Jungle Massacre: `My escape from the Hutus'

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The Independent Online
"THANK GOD I took an acting class at school," said Linda Adams, who escaped from Hutu guerrillas after she was captured early on Monday .

Ms Adams, 54, a Californian, was freed by the interahamwe extremists after faking an asthma attack.

Her quick thinking as the hostages were being marched up a mountain trail probably saved her from being tortured and hacked to death.

The gunmen came just as daylight was breaking over the Bwindi camp in the Impenetrable Forest. They overran the guard post; the rangers had no chance against gren-ades and automatic-rifle fire and several were killed. The attackers set the camp on fire.

The gunfire woke the tourists in the camp, who had gone to see mountain gorillas on the Rwandan border. The first one to wander out of her tent to find out what was going on was Ms Adams. "The sound in the valley, the vibration, was quite a shock. I got out of my tent and I walked around the corner - and then I got caught," she said in Kampala yesterday at the Sheraton Hotel.

"I saw gentlemen running with guns and four of them came over and grabbed me, all the money that I had, and told me to sit down. There was an older person leading them, he seemed quite calm. They all spoke French.

"After a while they brought some other captives from the other camps, marched them up and asked them what nationality they were, if they were British or American.

"The group holding the British people treated them quite badly. A British guy was sitting next to me, but I didn't dare make a lot of eye contact with him, so I just looked down. I could see he had purple toenails from being beaten. The rebels holding my group were not very hostile. They had me at gunpoint, but when they looted my cabin they actually gave me my glasses, passport and ticket when I asked for them.

"We were being marched up the hill and after a while I faked an asthma attack. I started coughing, I took out an inhaler and started using it. I was taking a risk but I thought it was worth it. One of the group leaders spoke to them in French and explained my problem. I don't know why they let me go. They could have shot me ... I also asked for my shoes and they gave them to me. But the British people were being forced to walk barefoot.

"They were really after the British and Americans."