President: We could have done more to stop massacre

Lucy Hannan,Andrew Buncombe@AndrewBuncombe
Wednesday 23 September 2015 09:32

THE PRESIDENT of Uganda yesterday promised to hunt down the Hutu rebels who murdered four Britons and four other Western tourists. He also admitted that his government had not done enough to protect the victims.

At a press conference in Kampala, the Ugandan capital, Yoweri Museveni apologised for the deaths and said his men were tracking the killers. "If we don't catch them, we shall kill them," he said.

"Given the criminal nature of mind of these rebels which are spread throughout the region,the authorities should have had the foresight to take precautions in Bwindi, which is close to the Congo border," the President said. "We therefore regret this mistake. On the one hand, it is the criminality of the rebels, but on the other hand there was also laxity on our own people in guarding these wonderful visitors of ours."

His comments came as officials were last night preparing to fly home the bodies of the four Britons who were murdered by Hutu rebels in Bwindi National Park in the early hours of Monday.

The Foreign Office yesterday confirmed the identities of the Britons killed as Martin Friend, from Kent, Mark Lindgren, 23, from Hertfordshire, Steven Roberts, 27, from Edinburgh, and Joanne Cotton, from Essex.

Among the survivors were Gary Tappenden and Fiona Morley, both from Kent, and Mark Avis, 27, who has joint British and New Zealand nationality. They were still in Kampala.

The two dead Americans were named as Rob Haubner, 48, and his wife, Susan Miller, 42. The New Zealand victims were identified as Rhonda Avis, 27, of Auckland, and Michelle Strathern, 26, of Timaru. Mrs Avis and her husband - who survived the attack - lived in New Zealand.

The family of Mr Tappenden revealed that their son had been with Mr Friend when the gunmen attacked. He rang home on Tuesday to tell them he was alive but he had no news of his friend.

"Gary will be distraught," his father, Robert, said yesterday.

The bodies will be flown back to Britain either later today or tomorrow. The survivors are also due to return to Britain today. The Foreign Office said post-mortem examinations had been carried out by the Ugandan authorities. Results were not yet known.

A team of FBI agents yesterday flew into Kampala from the Kenyan capital Nairobi, where it had been investigating last autumn's bomb attack on the US embassy. At the invitation of the Ugandan government, the agents have started interviewing the survivors of the kidnapping.

The military adviser at the British High Commission in Kampala yesterday visited the campsite where the attacks took place. Survivors say the rebels burnt alive one of the Ugandan guards.

The Hutu rebels selected English-speaking tourists to take revenge on Britain and the US for supporting the Tutsis in the Rwandan 1994 genocide, when Hutu extremists massacred 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

Massacre aftermath, page 3

Jan Morris, Review, page 5

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