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Tuesday, March 2, 1999 Published at 23:49 GMT


Britons died in cold blood - survivor

The national park is home to around 300 gorillas

The four Britons killed in Uganda were brutally murdered in cold blood by rebels and were not killed during a rescue attempt, according to a tour leader.

Martin Dawes in Kampala: "Displaced Rwandan rebels are bitter, murderous men"
Mark Ross, an American, was one of the Westerners kidnapped. He said the tourists had been executed.

The BBC's East Africa correspondent Martin Dawes says after he was released, Mr Ross walked back along a trail and came across three bodies. One was a woman who had apparently been raped.

The BBC's Martin Dawes: Ross says a French woman was about to die
Our correspondent says there is no apparent reason why Mr Ross was freed other than he speaks one of the local languages and may have been regarded as useful by the rebels.

His account is at odds with that of the Ugandan police, who said the hostages had been killed in the cross-fire of a rescue attempt.

[ image: Mark Ross: Escaped alive]
Mark Ross: Escaped alive
The Foreign Office is trying to find out further information as a matter of urgency and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has admitted he is not certain.

"We're simply doing everything we can to find out the situation," he said during a visit to Italy.

"Our first concern and our first information has got to be given to the families of the people."

Mr Ross said he saw five bodies on Monday even though Ugandan police spokesman Eric Naigambi said the tourists were killed on Tuesday morning.

Tony Blair: "Thoughts and hearts are with the families involved"
Foreign Secretary Robin Cook told the Commons he was seeking clarification on whether the deaths were caused as a result of Ugandan army intervention.

If this was confirmed, he would want an immediate explanation of how it happened in the light of assurances given on Monday.

Mark Ross: Woman appeared to have been raped
The victims were visiting the dense forest to see rare mountain gorillas.

The parents of one have been talking about the loss of their 23-year-old son, Mark Lindgren.

[ image: Victim Mark Lindgren graduated last summer]
Victim Mark Lindgren graduated last summer
The former Nottingham University student from St Albans, Hertfordshire, was two weeks into a final three-month holiday before returning home to start his first job.

His father, John Lindgren, 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."

Neighbour Peter Kellner added: "The Lindgrens are an exceptionally close-knit family.

"They are well-liked by their neighbours and many friends. We are all devastated by this news."

[ image: Linda Adams: Britons were beaten]
Linda Adams: Britons were beaten
Six other tourists, including two Britons, were rescued.

Linda Adams, 54, from California, escaped by faking an asthma attack.

"The group holding the British people treated them quite badly," she said.

"A British guy was sitting next to me. I could see he had purple toenails from being beaten.

"The British people were being forced to walk barefoot if they had no shoes."

The dead had machete wounds and their bodies are now in Kampala, in the care of the British High Commissioner, Michael Cook.

He believed Britons and Americans had been singled out by Interhamwe rebels in revenge for the two countries' alleged support for Ugandan and Rwandan intervention in the Congo.

The Hutu rebels massacred more than 500,000 Tutsis in 1994 and last year took hostage 11 people, including four foreign tourists. Three of thosee travellers have not been heard from since.

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