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Survivors recall safari raid

FOUR young British safari travellers were gunned down by bandits who ambushed them in the Angolan bush, an inquest was told yesterday.

Two of the party told the coroner how they survived a hail of bullets from sub-machine guns. They had gone through Angola to avoid war-torn Zaire, which they considered too dangerous.

The West Sussex coroner, Mark Calvert-Lee, recorded a verdict of unlawful killing in the death of Paul Couchman, 28, a chartered surveyor, of Arundel, West Sussex.

The other three who died were: Dr Mercedes MacKendrick, 25, of Lochwinnon, Strathclyde; her boyfriend, Jamie Pilbeam, 27, of Fleet, Hampshire, an officer in the 2nd Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers; and Andrew Chandler, 31.

David Sabin, 32, a farmer, of Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, said the group had been travelling in two Land Rovers and a Daihatsu vehicle along a dirt track at Quilengues, in southern Angola, after dark on 3 January.

'I slowed down for a corner and then I remember the controls of the car shattering in front of me in the vehicle and Andrew and Paul slumped forward,' he said.

Mr Sabin, who suffered five bullet wounds, told how he reversed at high speed into a ditch and switched off the headlights.

'I leaned across to see how Andy and Paul were. I shouted, then I felt dizzy. I fell against the door and it burst open. I tried to stand up and realised my legs were quite badly damaged and I could not get back into the car. I pulled myself along the ground and then I passed out.

'When I came round again I didn't know what time it was. I heard voices. I was lying in the bottom of the ditch. Then I heard two shots - then I went blank.'

Another of the group, Paul Grantham, of Ryde, Isle of Wight, told how he escaped unhurt in the crossfire and went for help from army forces in the nearest town.

The coroner told the inquest at Arundel that the attack had been 'horrifying'.