'One of the RUF troops shot a Kenyan at point blank range, and the whole place turned to hell'

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The Independent Online

A flavour of the murderous ruthlessness of the rebels faced by British troops in Sierra Leone was given by a confidential report into the murder of a United Nations soldier.

The report, by a Bangladeshi UN major, described the chaos last week at Makeni, east of Freetown, when drunken, drugged and unpredictable rebels from the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) killed the first international peace-keeper in cold blood.

"Brigadier Kallon (of the RUF) came to the camp fully drunk and started shouting and got extremely furious with me calling me a 'white man'," the Major writes. "He rushed to me and gave me a strong blow on my head, broke my spectacles and his soldiers took away my UN beret.

"My colleagues tried to cool him down but he tried to hit me with the bayonet of a machine gun loaded with ammunition. I blocked the hit with my right hand and it started bleeding, though the injury was minor. He was shouting at me 'white man, I will kill you'," he writes.

The Major describes how he ran for his life but other colleagues from the Kenyan UN battalion were dragged away by the RUF rebels. He hid in the Kenyan camp overnight which was surrounded by RUF hoodlums taking pot-shots and calling for him to come out.

"They tried to take a Kenyan officer with them but when he refused Brig Kallon pointed his pistol at him and other RUF aimed their guns at him," the report says. "The peace-keepers raised their weapons but they were shouting at the RUF 'don't fire, don't shoot, we are African brothers, you go and we will also leave. Suddenly one of the RUF rebels shot one of the Kenyans at point blank range and the soldier died on the spot. Brig Kallon ran away, and everyone started firing.

"I was in the middle of the firing inside the lorry and could hear the moaning and screaming of dying soldiers and some RUF rebels," he writes. "RUF were firing indiscriminately and the place turned to hell."

Somehow the Major managed to escape on foot with the Kenyan troops yomping forty miles through the jungle.

The death of the Kenyan was the first of a UN peace-keeper and represented a milestone in the spiral of violence in this dark corner of Africa.

British officers said that if they encountered the RUF they would not allow the rebels to come up close unless exact terms of negotiation had been settled. "If they come up close you lose all you advantage and lose the efficacy of all your weapon systems," one senior officer said. You have to be very careful how and when you enter into negotiations."

They were tactics that may well be put to the test over the next few days as the British troops face pressure to become involved in the fighting.

This is an MoD pooled report

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