It was the fast-flowing river that doomed the inhabitants of Tula Toli.
Snaking around the remote village on three sides, the treacherous waters allowed Burmese soldiers to corner and hold people on the river’s sandy banks. Some were shot on the spot. Others drowned in the current as they tried to escape.
Zahir Ahmed made a panicked dash for the opposite bank, where he hid in thick jungle and watched his family’s last moments.
“I was right next to the water,” he recalled in an interview a week later at a refugee camp in neighbouring Bangladesh, his eyes bloodshot and his shirt stained with sweat and dirt.
Ahmed said teenagers and adults were shot with rifles, while babies and toddlers, including his youngest daughter, six-month old Hasina, were thrown into the water.
He cried as he described seeing his wife and children die, meticulously naming and counting them on both hands until he ran out of fingers…