Plied with drugs and guns that many had been trained to use overnight, waves of child soldiers were sent into Monrovia as cannon fodder, forcing horrified west African peacekeepers to mow them down as one of the most brutal chapters of Liberia’s civil war began on 15 October 1992 when rebels attempted to seize the capital.
Overseeing Operation Octopus was a female commander called Martina Johnson. As part of the operation, a heavy artillery unit shelled residential areas throughout the four-month offensive, and allegations of torture were made that stood out even in a war characterised by mutilations and mass rapes.
This September she was called to account for her actions for the first time at a court in Belgium’s riverside city of Ghent. She is currently under house arrest with an electronic bracelet awaiting a court date. Johnson denies all of the accusations which have been brought against her, according to press reports.