In the mangrove swamps at the end of the runway of Monrovia's Spriggs-Payne airfield lies the bloody legacy of Samuel Doe's 10-year rule.
Hundreds of skulls peered out from the long grass and bleached, clean bones lay on the dark, wet mud of the killing fields discovered Wednesday by advancing troops of the West African Peacekeeping Force."They used to come at night," said one man who lost five members of his family to Doe's death squads. "They knocked at the door and said, `The chief wants to see you.' Then they would take you either to the beach or, more often, to the airfield."
A UPI correspondent counted more than 100 skulls scattered around the end of the runway but could see more bones littered throughout the dense undergrowth into inaccessible swampland that stretches for miles beyond the airfield.
The killing site was a chilling reminder of the brutality of the decadelong rule of Doe, who was tortured to death on Sept. 9 by rebel leader Prince Johnson.
Thousands filed past his mutilated body when it was exhibited with ears, fingers and toes missing at a Monrovia hospital.
Atrocities and indiscriminate killings have been committed by all sides in Liberia's 10-month civil war.
The peacekeeping force's offensive against rebels in the east of Monrovia also gave access to St. Peter's Lutheran Church, where Doe's soldiers butchered 600 refugees from rival tribes on July 29.