When the history of Idi Amin's reign of terror is written, the Namanve Forest outside Kampala deserves a prominent place.
The national reserve on the road to Jinja, is where Amin's henchmen dumped the bodies of thousands of their victims - including that of Dora Bloch, the elderly Israeli killed at the time of the Israel raid on Entebbe Airport in 1976.
The inconspicuous forest is easily missed by visitors. Buts its location and history are well known to Ugandans. According to Victor Kato, an auditor with a private company who lives on the edge of the woods: "It has been an evil forest."
He estimated in an interview and a visit to Namanve that "at least six or seven thousand people have ended their lives in this forest." The names of most will never be known.
Bloch, a 75-year-old woman with British and Israeli passports, was according to Kato, shot and killed in a clearing in the forest, at the base of a sand bank about 200 yards off the main road.
Kato explained: "I was coming home from my shopping when I heard about nine shots. Of course everyone was scard because this was a tense period. I rushed to the main road and asked people what had happened. They said that two cars had turned into the forest with a white lady."
He continued: "On going there, we found a body of an elderly lady. They shot her along with a white chicken. Maybe it was some sort of witchcraft. I don't know."
[Previous accounts of Bloch's death pieced together from various sources, have said she was strangled by Amin's agents on July 4, 1976, the day after the bold Israeli rescue that got most of the other passengers out of Entebbe safely.]
Kato said that later when he and his neighbors heard foreign radio reports of the Entebbe rescue, they realized who the dead woman was.
"They left her body there for some time," he added. "Then they came to collect it, probably to prevent journalists from seeing it."
Other victims of the Entebbe raid also ended up in the Namanve Forest.
According to residents in the area, Amin, infuriated at the inability of his troops to stop the rescue mission, ordered not only the Bloch execution but also the murder of three Ugandan air traffic controllers working at the airport when the Israelis landed.
"They brought the bodies here," Kato said. "But after seeing so many bodies in the forest, no one was interested until the father of one of these young men came looking for his son. A few kind people came to help him and the first body they found was that of his son."
No relatives came to collect the other two bodies. So after three or four days people in the neighborhood buried them. Kato pointed out the graves, carefully preserved, he said. "so some day the relatives can come and collect their bones and take them home."
Just past these two graves is a small orange tree, where Kato said "at least 50 or 60 bodies have been thrown. This organge tree has been the death bed for so many people."
Kato said he suspects most victims dumped in the forest were killed by Amin's notorious State Research Bureau.
"These patrolling intelligence people traveled 24 hours a day, arresting people from all corners of the country, interrogating and torturing them, and eventually dumping their bodies in the forest," he said.
The State Research Bureau arrested people for a wide variety of reasons. Some were suspected for spying or other crimes, while others had angered a particular Amin agent. Kato said one victim found in the forest was a barmaid who had refused the attentions of a government official.
Most bodies were never claimed, he said, adding:
"Those who rotted here were not from this area. Their relatives did not know their whereabouts or did not have transport to collect the bodies. No one was here to report that such and such a person was missing. It was always done by word of mouth. For instance, I've always been informing my colleagues at the office that we have a particular type of body there and say if they've lost a relative please go an check to see if the relative is in the forest.