Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Rebels Cut off Kigali Reports from Rwanda Say Key Government Barracks Is Overrun

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Rebels Cut off Kigali Reports from Rwanda Say Key Government Barracks Is Overrun

Article excerpt

Rebels cut off the last avenue of retreat Monday for government troops caught in the Rwandan capital of Kigali and overran a vital army barracks near Gitarama, the interim government's stronghold.

Rwanda's interim government retreated to Gitarama, about 25 miles southwest of Kigali, ahead of a rebel advance into the capital last month.

The government's barracks at Nyanza, about 19 miles southeast of Gitarama, has fallen to the rebels, according to visitors there Monday. But the government has not fled from Gitarama, contrary to rebel claims.

However, a U.N. source said earlier that the fall of Nyanza would be a major blow to the army's ability to defend the interim government stronghold at Gitarama. Government troops had rushed reinforcements recently to areas surrounding the city.

Rebels reportedly have been advancing on Gitarama from the east and the south. An Associated Press photographer who was in Gitarama last Thursday saw government workers stacking boxes of files, equipment and luggage outside the door of the government buildings.

The Rwandan rebels seized the Nyanza barracks as they and the army began U.N.-mediated talks on a cease-fire. After an opening session of more than five hours, U.N. spokesman Abdul Kabia said the sides agreed to meet again Thursday.

In Kigali, Kabia said the rebels raised serious concerns about continuing ethnic massacres, radio broadcasts inciting killing and alleged government interference with U.N. efforts to evacuate displaced people.

In Byumba, near the Ugandan border, rebel leader Dennis Polise told The Associated Press that rebel demands for a cease-fire include allowing civilians in Kigali to go wherever they want, and stopping the massacres.

Polise accused the United Nations of standing by during the bloodshed, saying that many massacres "occurred under the noses of the blue helmets," a reference to the headgear worn by U.N. peacekeepers.

The United Nations reduced its contingent in Rwanda from 2,500 to about 450 last month at the height of the massacres. It has authorized an additional 5,500 peacekeepers, but it is not clear when they might arrive.

About 200,000 people have been killed and an estimated 2 million displaced since Rwanda's ethnic bloodletting began after its president was killed in a mysterious plane crash April 6. …

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