Author-card of document number 30504

Sunday March 8, 1998
Rwanda: Rwandan army search for rebel forces
(8 Mar 1998) Rwandan/Nat

The Rwandan army is searching for rebel forces in the forests, hills and swamps of the region, following a battle that killed 18 rebels earlier in the week.

More than 150 people have been killed in central Rwanda in the last week, in the worst fighting in the region since the 1994 genocide.

In an attempt to clamp down on recent violence, Rwandan army troops have attacked forces of the Interahamwe, the Hutu extremist militia.

Eighteen rebels were killed on Thursday in a fierce battle with an undisclosed number of government troops.

The officer leading the operation believes the Interahamwe forces will soon be defeated.

SOUNDBITE: (English)

"Well I think it's a matter of time, a very short time for sure. I don't think they're a credible group, but they enjoy the advantages of the terrain, and they still have the advantage of the local population, that they use as a shield in some places, mainly to confuse. It's a matter of time, it's quite a short time for a formidable conclusion."

SUPER CAPTION: Lieutenant-Colonel Karenzi-Karake, Rwandan Army

Despite being better equipped and trained than their opponents, Rwanda's army is still taking casualties.

These men have been injured but will live, others have not been so lucky.

The army claims to have lost eight men in the last week, but independent reports suggest the figure could be much higher.

The latest fighting erupted on 28th of February.

Conflict has intensified in Rwanda since hundreds of thousands of Hutus returned from exile in the Congo in November 1996.

The rebels took part in the Hutu-led slaughter of more than 500-thousand Rwandan Tutsis and moderate Hutus in 1994.

Tutsis gained control in July 1994 and stopped the massacres.

This Tutsi woman survived those times, but lost everything.

SOUNDBITE: (Kinyarwandan)
"I went to hide in Kabgayi (a Catholic diocese), and then I went to Giko. When I came back here my house was destroyed, my property looted, I am still displaced here."

SUPER CAPTION: Patricia Mukaluging, Survivor of 1994 Genocide

Patricia's village of Bulinga was attacked by Interahamwe forces last week, when they killed several Tutsis.

At least seven civilians have been killed over the last week, the number may be much higher.

Many of the Hutus returning from exile have been accused of taking part in 1994's genocide.

There are over 130-thousand in Cachots, or makeshift jails, like this one.

Only a tiny number have been charged so far.

These men were freed by the Interahamwe when they attacked Bulinga, but they chose to return rather than face life on the run.

Altogether 138 rebels have been killed in the latest fighting.

The army claims it is now mopping up the last remnants of the rebel forces, but it is inevitable that more casualties will be taken by both sides and the civilian population.


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