Of all the terrible things I have witnessed during my years as a war reporter, the human suffering caused by Operation No Living Thing in Sierra Leone was the worst. Tooled up to the nines with AK-47s supplied by a Ukrainian arms dealer called Leonid Minin and funded by Muammar Gaddafi, rebels loyal to a psychotic fruitcake called Foday Sankoh, leader of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), sought to overthrow the government of one of the poorest countries in the world in order to get their hands on the diamond mines. In January 1999, at the height of their reign of terror, they discovered a warehouse full of machetes, waiting for delivery to farms.
Freetown, the fly-blown capital of Sierra Leone, came under siege. Brutality, bestiality, savagery – the nouns don’t convey what happened. Think Stump City. Feinstein writes that thousands ‘had their limbs hacked off with machetes, eyes gouged out with knives, hands and jaws smashed with hammers and bodies burned with boiling