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October 7, 1998

Biological and Chemical WeaponryMedical Aspects of Chemical and Biological Warfare

Author Affiliations

Harriet S.MeyerMD, Contributing EditorJonathan D.EldredgeMLS, PhD, Journal Review EditorRobertHoganMD, adviser for software


Not Available

JAMA. 1998;280(13):1199. doi:10.1001/jama.280.13.1199-JBK1007-4-1

In the early 1980s, I interviewed a group of Hmong villagers who had recently crossed the Mekong River into Northern Thailand. They had reported being attacked from the air with a yellow powder that, they said, rapidly killed most of their livestock and several villagers. They then decided to trek across many miles of rugged hostile country to seek refuge in Thailand. During their march, they were again attacked and machine-gunned from the air, losing several children and elders who could not rapidly run for cover. I was shocked and dismayed by the graphic description of these events, particularly those suggesting chemical or biological agents, and expressed this to my Thai military interpreter, who only nodded and said, "What is the difference in how you do the murdering."

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