Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Rwanda Engulfed in Week of Ethnic Warfare

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Rwanda Engulfed in Week of Ethnic Warfare

Article excerpt

KIGALI, the capital of Rwanda, echoed from the sound of mortar and heavy machine-gun exchanges on April 14 between government troops and the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), a Tutsi rebel force that is advancing from the north.

The city was filled with men armed with machetes, clubs, hatchets, and spears. Six days of ethnic warfare has killed an estimated 20,000 people, and the streets of Kigali were littered with the bodies of people killed in the violence.

Fears mounted that the entire country could become engulfed in fighting between the majority Hutu ethnic group and the minority Tutsi. In the countryside, smoke from burned-out villages wafted over the lush green hills that once earned Rwanda the nickname "The Switzerland of Africa."

The RPF said it would not agree to a truce the United Nations has been attempting to broker for days. "We have not signed any cease-fire agreement and we don't intend to," said Christine Omutoni and Bosco Butera, members of the rebel group's political bureau in Uganda. They do not recognize the provisional government appointed on April 8.

The interim government was reported on April 12 to have fled a Kigali hotel where it had been staying. The British Broadcasting Corporation said the group left in a convoy for an unknown destination, prompting further panic in Kigali.

The country's political parties have been unable to agree on who would serve in the government following the turmoil that has convulsed Rwanda since the presidents of Rwanda and neighboring Burundi died in a plane crash on April 6. The cause of the crash has not been confirmed, but earlier reports said the plane was hit in a rocket attack.

United States officials said all of the 250 Americans, mostly missionaries and aid workers, who wanted to leave Rwanda had been evacuated by April 10, along with hundreds of French, Belgians, and other expatriates. …

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