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Rebels 'butchered' kidnapped Britons.

Eight tourists, including four Britons, who were kidnapped and killed on a Ugandan jungle safari to see rare mountain gorillas, may have been butchered in cold blood.

Officials claimed initially that the tourists were killed during a shoot-out between security men and Rwandan rebels. Later, a survivor said the victims appeared to have been slaughtered with machetes. One woman had probably been raped.

Student Mr Mark Lindgren, aged 23, a life-long Wolverhampton Wanderers fan, and a graduate of Nottingham University where he played in the soccer team, was named as one of the victims last night.

Grief-stricken relatives said Mark, who graduated in French and Management Studies last year, had been in Uganda for a last holiday before returning home to start his first job.

His parents, Mr John Lindgren and his wife Ann, from St Albans, Hertfordshire, last night paid tribute to their "generous and bright" son, who had a keen interest in wildlife who had obtained three As at A-level.

Chartered surveyor Mr Lindgren, aged 60, said: "Mark was kind-hearted, generous, bright and loved life. He had a wonderful sense of humour and was loyal to his friends and family.

"He was respected by the people he worked with and he had a bright future ahead of him."

Mark shared his passion for the Wolves with his uncle, who still lives in the city.

"He was a very keen fan, and went up to support the team as often as he could. I believe he was even introduced to the players when he was a teenager."

Mark was into the third week of a three-month tour of Africa with London-based travel firm Acacia Expeditions when he and the other tourists were captured.

They were seized at campsites on the edge of the Bwindi National Park, known as the Impenetrable Forest, the haunt of 320 rare mountain gorillas.

The animals were immortalised in the film Gorillas in the Mist in which Sigourney Weaver starred as researcher Dian Fossey, who risked her life saving the animals from extinction.

Up to 150 members of the feared Rwandan Interhamwe militia had stormed three camps in the isolated Bwindi National Park late on Sunday night, taking at least 14 tourists hostage in the surrounding hills.

British diplomats said that reports from the scene in the Kisoro region of Uganda, which borders on to Rwanda and the Congo, indicated that there may have been a political motive behind the brutal attack.

Mr Michael Cook, the British High Commissioner in Kampala, said: "The rebels tried to identify American and British tourists from the others.

"They claimed that it was revenge for alleged British and American support for Ugandan and Rwandan intervention in the Congo."

The six survivors of the kidnap, including one American, two Britons, a New Zealander, a Canadian and a Swiss woman, arrived back in Kampala last night after their ordeal.

Security officials in Uganda, which has promoted itself as one of Africa's most stable and prosperous countries in recent years, insisted an operation to rescue the captured group had been launched this morning.

But American survivor, Mr Mark Ross, who escaped and later found five of the massacre victims, said they appeared to have been brutally hacked to death with machetes.

Speaking in the Ugandan capital of Kampala, he said: "The ones that I saw had their heads crushed in and deep slashes."

Acacia Expeditions said last night six of the dead were on its tour, including a member of the company's organising staff. A further ten tourists and one crew member had returned to Kampala.

In a statement to the House of Commons, the Foreign Secretary Mr Robin Cook said: "It is not yet clear whether the Ugandan military intervened directly, but if that is confirmed we will want an immediate explanation of how this happened despite assurances we were given yesterday."

Reports/Page 6

Rebels 'butchered'

kidnapped Britons

Victim: Mark Lindgren, aged 23, from St Albans, Hertfordshire, was a lifelong Wolverhampton Wanderers fan. Below, the Buhoma Camp in Uganda, one of the sites where the kidnaps took place.
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Author:Stote, Martin
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Mar 3, 1999
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