Louise Linton reveals brush with death in Zambia

Actress Louise Linton. File picture: compActress Louise Linton. File picture: comp
Actress Louise Linton. File picture: comp

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ACTRESS Louise Linton has revealed how she was nearly killed on her gap year in Africa when she was hunted by machete-armed Hutu rebels.

After attending the prestigious Fettes College in her hometown of Edinburgh Linton travelled to Zambia to volunteer for six months in 2005.

But her plans were cut short when she became caught up in the brutal Second Congo War - which spilled into Zambia from neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.

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Within three months of arriving on Lake Tanganyika the village she was staying with was attacked by a gang of machete-wielding rebels backed by Rwanda.

Now Linton has revealed her terrifying experience in a book to be published later this month.

In it the 29 year-old actress - who has filmed alongside Tom Cruise and Robert Redford - describes how the conflict between the Congolese army and Hutu rebels spread over the Zambian border.

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When Hutu militiamen advanced on the village she was forced to flee and hide in the undergrowth.

She explains: “Gunshots echoed through the bush and seemed to be getting closer. I tried to face up to the possibility that my life was over.

“If I were discovered in my bolthole, I would be raped. I would be cut down. Smirking men with deadened eyes would brutalise me before casting me aside like a rag doll.

“My death, and the manner of it, seemed inevitable.”

Torches were shone in the direction of her hideout - and two men armed with AK47 rifles came close to her - but she managed to suppress her sobs of fear and remain hidden.

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Describing the situation, she said: “Because I was a young white woman with a British passport I felt particularly vulnerable.

“I was very conscious that I stood out and would be a target if the militiamen had found me.

“My body felt paralysed but my heart was hammering so hard against my ribcage I felt certain it could be heard. I was only 18, but I was in constant fear for my life.”

Louise survived a number of such raids on the village, as well as a bout of malaria and encounters with lions, black mambas and crocodiles.

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In her time there she built a small school, which is still in use today.

Now she is keen to raise awareness about the state of central Africa, where many communities remain troubled by violence, poverty and HIV.

Linton added: “When I got back to Scotland I found that people knew nothing about the war.

“Sadly, little has changed for the better since then and, if anything, things are worse than they were before. It’s heartbreaking.”

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After starring in school plays at Fettes College - the same school attended by Tony Blair - Linton travelled to the US, where she won a part in CSI: New York.

She has also played a small role in the movie Lions for Lambs, alongside Meryl Streep and Tom Cruise.

Now she is set to stars in a new film directed by Warren Beatty - working alongside Martin Sheen and Alec Baldwin.

Linton has met dozens of big names in the US, and has even dined with Donald Trump.

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Describing the experience, she said: “I sat next to him at dinner and he was charming and engaging.

“I appreciate he is polarising individuals politically, but in person he is thoughtful, personable and polite.”

Linton’s book - In Congo’s Shadow - will be published on May 10.