Refugees flowed out of Uganda in mounting numbers today telling tales of terror, torture and mass killings.
United Press International quoted high sources in Kampala, the Ugandan capital, as saying that President Idi Amin has drawn up a death list of 7,000 - mostly Christians or Acholi and Lango tribesmen - and sent squads into jungle villages to carry out executions with hammers and axes.
Los Angeles Times Correspondent David Lamb said six newly arrived refugees had told him Amin had a "master plan" to rid his country of all Acholi and Lango tribesmen.
The Associated Press reported that one refugee had been told by a prisoner who escaped from Nakasero prison in Kampala that one man responsible for killing prisoners used a hammer, panga (large knife) or axe, depending on his mood.
[Sources in Washington said that although refugees "tend to be in a highly emotional state," those leaving Uganda "appear to be people on whom some credence can be placed." A source said that in light of the past six years of Ugandan history "one tends to put greater credence in reports of this sort." Amin took power in a coup six years ago.]
[The State Department has generally declined to comment on the reports of massacres in Uganda on the ground that they are unconfirmed. U.S. officials have toned down their remarks about human rights violations in Uganda since Amin temporarily ordered last week that resident Americans could not leave the country.]
The prisoner who escaped from Nakasero prison was quoted as saying that the man in charge of killings, names Hassan, used a hammer "when he is happy because this gives the victim quick release."
"When he is unhappy," the escaped prisoner said, "he calls in two prisoners and arms one with a panga and the other with an axe. They are then made to fight to the death."
Church sources here reported that Anglican Bishop Brian Herd, the only white bishop in Uganda was arrested and will be deported Saturday. Herd signed a letter from Anglican bishops to Amin protesting the "rule of the gun" in the country. Another Anglican archbishop who signed the letter, Janani Luwum, was later killed.
It is difficult to obtain accurate figures on the number of persons killed under Amin's rule, but most estimates put it in the thousands.
Amnesty International, a London-based human rights group puts the number between 30,000 and 300,000. The Geneva-based International Commission of Jurists said it is between 25,000 and 250,000.
African observers believe the lower figures are too conservative and the higher ones are closer in the truth.
David Lamb of the Los Angeles Times reported the following from Nairobi:
"No one in Uganda, except for the army, lives any more," said a Nakerere University professor. "They only survive. Everyone is too scared to be angry, death is everywhere. There is killing going on night and day."
The professor, like the other Acholi and Lango refugees interviewed, asked that his name not be used for fear his family in Uganda might be harmed. In some cases the refugees' stories were corroborated by Western intelligence sources.
A 36-year-old businessman representing an international firm: "The State Research Unit arrested me at Entebbe Airport when I came back from a trip carrying American travelers checks. They said I was working for the CIA and they took me to Nakinoye Prison. I spent 10 days there.
"At night they beat me with gun handles [rifle butts] and clubs, trying to get me to sign a statement. I could see lorries [trucks] outside my window getting loaded up with bodies. Many lorries came. I thought I was dead. I could feel death inside me.
"The next cell to me was called the elimination chamber. I could hear cries - they did not last long - and the sound of clubs splattering heads. Later, I learned that the soldiers use hammers so they won't have to waste bullets. Some people in Nakinoye are just cut up while they're still alive. The soldiers cut off their private parts first.
A 29-year-old soldier from Jinga: "About 10 or 11 nights a car came to my neighbor's house. He's Lango and he was hiding. Four men in civilian clothes got out of the car and broke into his house looking for him.
"His wife was screaming and the men were angry that he had gotten away. One of them picked up his baby by the feet and swung him hard against a tree. I'm sure it killed him."
Most of the killing reportedly is undertaken by members of two security units Amin formed in the early 1970s: the Bureau of State Research and the Public Safety Unit. It is from these units that Amin put together a 5,000-man force that currently is moving through Uganda to track down Acholis and Langi.