Author-card of document number 12993

Friday April 8, 1994
Rwandan capital plunges back into war
Identifier (cote)
Dépêche d'agence
KIGALI, April 8 (Reuter) - Soldiers killed at least 11 Belgian U.N.
peacekeepers and the woman prime minister as Rwanda's capital plunged
deeper into civil war following the downing of a plane carrying the
country's president.

The scream of mortar bombs and crackle of rifle fire raged on in parts
of Kigali and around the rebel-held parliament building on Friday with
the country gripped by a power vacuum.

U.N. officials feared that violence between Rwanda's Hutu majority and
Tutsi minority tribes would spread outside the capital, battered by its
worst battles since the start of civil war four years ago.

President Juvenal Habyarimana, a Hutu who took power in 1973, and
Cyprien Ntaryamira, the president of neighbouring Burundi, died when a
plane bringing them back from regional peace talks in Tanzania was hit
by a rocket on Wednesday night.

U.N. officials said casualties on Thursday from fighting and a rampage
by unruly government forces following the killing of the presidents
were surprisingly high. Casualty figures were due to be issued on

A U.N. spokesman said at least 11 Belgian peacekeepers were shot after
being disarmed by presidential guards on their way to the airport to
investigate the plane crash.

He said the bodies of 11 of 13 Belgian soldiers detained had been
recovered with bullet wounds. You can call it an execution, he said.
The last two were unaccounted for.

The U.N. spokesman in Kigali said Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana
was killed on Thursday near the presidential palace in an area where
U.N. forces had been denied access.

Belgium said after an emergency cabinet meeting it had analysed the
situation particularly with a view to taking appropriate measures for
the protection of our compatriots

Belgian authorities had made the necessary contacts with other
interested governments and the United Nations, it said.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman would not elaborate when asked whether the
government was about to arrange the evacuation of Belgian nationals
from Rwanda.

Belgium, the former colonial power in Rwanda and Burundi, has about
1,500 civilian nationals and 800 troops in Rwanda.

Commanders of the rebel Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), whose 600
fighters in Kigali joined fighting, told U.N. peacekeepers RPF
reinforcements would move to the capital from their strongholds in
northern Rwanda, U.N. officials said.

Battles around parliament between troops and RPF fighters shattered a
peace agreement hammered out in the northern Tanzanian town of Arusha
last August to end the civil war and install a transitional government
before elections in 1995.

Members of the 700-strong presidential guard abducted opposition
leaders and their families, including three government ministers, the
president of the Constitutional Court and president of the national
assembly, U.N. officials said.

Residents said many killings were being carried out by members of the
army who were searching house-to-house for Tutsi RPF sympathisers and
their Hutu political allies.

Youths wielding machetes, knives and clubs stalked Kigali, settling
tribal scores by hacking and clubbing people to death or simply
shooting them, witnesses said.

Hatred between Hutu and Tutsi, former feudal overlords, predate Rwandan
and Burundi independence from Belgium in 1962.

Tens of thousands of Tutsi and Hutu have died in ethnic slaughter in
both countries over the years. The death toll in Burundi since renegade
troops killed its first Hutu president, Melchior Ndadaye, on October 21
was estimated at up to 50,000.

A U.N. official said the prime minister was evidently murdered by
members of the presidential guard. U.S. President Bill Clinton said he
was horrified that elements of the Rwandan security forces had sought
out and murdered officials.

Her husband, two children and Prime Minister-Designate Faustin
Twagiramungu were said to be under U.N. protection.

Uwilingiyimana, a Hutu, was appointed in July last year and was one of
Africa's first woman prime ministers.

Asked in a telephone interview with Belgian RTL-Television earlier if
she feared for her life, she replied: I fear for the security of
everyone. The international community must act.

Families trapped in single-storey homes and terrified shells would
plunge through flimsy roofs spent Thursday night under beds and tables
listening to explosions.

(c) Reuters Limited 1994

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