12/30/2002

The losing of Man

Background: Like I mentioned previously, I was one of those fighting in Ivory Coast for the government against the secondary rebels. I got shot, and was shipped back to the country I am now in. I left with two assistants, Jamal and Yusuf. However, Jamal went back to fight, leaving me with Yusuf. The town we were fighting for was called Man, and when I left, the town had not yet been captured. However, it was captured a few days later. When Jamal went back, he went to that town with the rest of the company. And then, the fighting restarted, the town was lost, and about 10 of our men died. I didn't know what happened, I just read this in the news, and I've been trying to find out what was wrong. I phoned, and they told me that Jamal was in hospital. So I went over to South Africa for a two day trip, and he told me what happened. This is the second hand account.

When Jamal arrived, he got assigned a Toyota 'Taliban', and drove to Man with 4 other government soldiers. Jamal is a black American, and I have never seen anyone so racist about Africans. He fucking hates Africans. Everytime we fight with government troops, he is constantly complaining about how ignorant, useless and untrustworthy they are. Hence, he hated that 4 hour trip, and by the time they arrived, he was quarelling loudly with the government troops. Out of spite, I think, they told him to join the men that were occupying the town itself (about 30 men), and not stay in the camp on the outskirts.

So Jamal drove into the deserted town, with the occasional frightened person hanging around in front of their door. He drove to the control post, a 5 story building (the highest in the town), and joined the other troopers (20 mercs, 10 gov troops).

They stayed there for a few days, without incident, and the townsfolk started trickling in slowly, and the town seemed to be returning to normal. Unfortunately for the homecomers, everybody who came back was forced to dispose of corpses for a number of hours before being allowed to go home. You don't expect us to do that, do you? We are fighters, not garbage disposal.

Our mercs have become lazy motherfuckers. They are in the middle of a fucking warzone, and they post just two men to guard a town at night? And those men are smoking fags? Well, I understand it somewhat - we were fighting a rabble of armed civilians, and not soldiers. This mission was for us childs play. A small number of well trained soldiers, with the artillery we had, and with a nice mix of strategists, trained interrogators (like myself), heavy gun specialists can usually deal with a large army of not properly trained troops. But things are not always the way they seem.

Around 2am, heavy guns started firing. All the soldiers woke up, grabbed their guns, and looked outside. Someone lit a torch, and immediately, the windows were shattered with gunfire. A bullet richcoteted off some metal on the wall, and gave someone a flesh wound. We had searchlights on the roof, but they were not on. It turned out that one of the idiots on the roof had been shot dead, and the other was bleeding to death. The rebels had shot at their cigarrete lights.

What we found out later is that some liberian trained militia had joined the rebels. And these militia have been fighting for years, and they were good. They were about 50, but they were backed up by a number of local troops. Our men were trapped in this buildiing, with the rebels standing outside with at least two machine guns, and a good number of automatic rifles. We had another group in two other houses at the other ends of the town, and Jamal and his group soon heard the firing as they were driven back by other rebel troops.

In the meantime, Jamal and his group were lying on the floor. The officer commanded the men to spread out in the house, and to start attacking from different windows. Jama was ordered to take over the halogen searchlights on the roof, and point them downwards. These lights are heavy, and cannot be moved, but they are bullet proof. They were not sure however, if the caliber of machine gun could penetrate the light's bullet proof glass. Jamal was ordered upstairs, and told to wait till the guns had been destroyed before switching it on. He crawled out of the room, and made his way dowstairs. Some men were posted to cover the frontdoor from the starwell. Jamal went up and waited.

Another soldier I know, a german with a harelip, Stefan, threw a timed flare from a window into the street. As soon as they started shooting, our men opened fire with a chinese constructed custom gun we have that shoots small explode-on-impact grenades. One gun was destroyed, and the person who was handling it was impaled on the barrel. A horrible sight, according to Jamal. Then, the flare went out, and the shooting stopped. Stefan shot a few more flares from other windows, but there was no replying fire. Jamal called for backup, and they primed from the roof. The halogen searchlight was switched on, and the street was visble again. There were no rebels to be seen.

In the meantime, someone was burning tires in the streets. I don't have any frickin idea why Africans always burn tires whenever anything happens. Are there so many tires that they can't dispose off? And do they wait specially for conflicts, and then decide, yoohoo, lets grab this oportunity to dispose of our tires! I always think that when I see burning tires in the streets during a fight.

Our men waited for 15 minutes, and nothing happened. The officer set priority to escaping alive, since it didn't seem like they would be able to drive the rebels out of the town. But the group was about 2 KM from the base camp, and they were not sure what was happening at the other ends of town, and in base camp. They all got commands to prepare to enter the trucks, and fire-and-drive their way out of the town.

And then, boom, a mortar landed on the roof, blew off the search light, killed one of the men Jamal was with, knocked the other one off the roof, and jamal was hit in the face by some flying object. The roof caught fire, and Jamal was barely able to make it down the stairs. A portion of the cement roof had collapsed in, and some of the top floor rooms were on fire. Another mortar landed on the roof. Then another hit a truck. A few others fell on the road and compound. Immediately, the rebels stormed out from some nearby houses, shooting at all the windows, and carry burning sticks. They flung the sticks into the house, and tried to burst in through the front door. Luckily, the two men there were able to keep them off, and the other men started firing from the windows again, and drove off the attack.

At that moment, the officer told them to start escaping. 3 men rush out to a truck, under cover from the men at the windows, started it and drove to the door. Then that truck was hit by some explosive device, and caught fire. One of the men made it out, and ran back into the house. The rebels finally raised enough firepower to drive our men from the windows.

Our men were in trouble. The liberian soldiers were good, and they had good firepower and weapons. They also had men much in excess of our men.

Jamal went down to the officer, and proposed a scattered retreat. The officer gave permission. Then Jamal went and told the governement soldiers that they had received radio that our men had almost arrived, and that we were to hold the house for about 15 more minutes, and then we were safe. The government soldiers were utterly relieved, since they were sure they would die. The house was burning, and people outside were waiting to shoot everyone who came out. Jamal asked them to cover the street, and not to let anyone show his face.

Then he met the other mercs, and gave them the order for the disorganized retreat. Jamal, the officer, and two other mercs went to a side window in the fourth floor, and chose that way to make their escape. Stefan went with the others, and decided to fight their way over the back door out.

The 5 story building Jamal was in had a concrete roof. The building beside was 3 stories high, and had a zinc roof. Thus, it was not possible to directly walk across the roof. However, as builders will tell you, zinc roofs have got wooden beams holding them. You can know where the wooden bean is by the nails on the roof. Our men are trained for such excersises, and they actually did this stunt. The jumped from the fourth floor window, unto this zinc roof, and landed on the wooden beams, then ran quickly across the roof, taking care to tread on the wood. They jumped, and ran across, with the roof noise masked by the gunshots from the front, and dropped from the 3rd floor to the ground. From there, they ran across the small compound, crouched behind the small hibiscus bushes. They didn't enter a truck, but simply ran on the open road, pistols drawn.

They saw someone in the street and shot him. He was a civilian, but hey, if you live in a glass house, don't throw stones. They ran for a few hudred meters, and then reached a largish highway, which luckily had tiger grass growing by the side. The ran crouched, till the were about 100 meters from a rebel roadblock. The rebels had these small kerosine lamps on the roadside, stupidly, and they could be seen.

For covert operations, you really shouldn't mess with our mercs. They crawled up to the post in the grass, came out, and shot 5 men with pistols. The rest of the men didn't bother trying to fight back, they simply scramed. Jamal and the others continued running, and as they went around a bend, someone shot at them. They backed up, and the officer bumped into another man, and he fell, stumbled across something, and landed in a burning tire. Rubber burns are not nice burns, and he got his arm burnt badly. The group waited a bit, then peered around the corner.


And luckily for them, it was their own men standing there. They were now in radio range, so were able to radio for them to halt fire. Then they walked over to safety.

All the government soldiers in the house were killed. The other group of mercs made it back over some backstreets, but lost some of the group. Jamal and the burnt arm man were taken to hospital, and then Jamal was sent back to SA because of some eye complications. He is still there, but seems to be doing quite well.

A dramatic event, but a humiliating loss for our men. That is one of the biggest men losses in West Africa, and may cause us to lose our contract.