EXPLOSIONS rocked the Rwandan capital Kigali Thursday and heavy fighting broke out around the presidential palace, after the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi were killed Wednesday in a rocket attack on their plane as they flew back from regional peace talks, witnesses said.
Diplomats said the presidents' killings would throw Rwanda and Burundi, ravaged by conflict between their Hutu majorities and Tutsi minorities, into political chaos and perhaps increase violence. The dead leaders, President Juvenal Habyarimana and Burundi President Cyprien Ntaryamira, were Hutus.
Meanwhile, according to a UN spokesman, members of Rwanda's presidential guard kidnapped three Cabinet ministers and three UN military observers on Thursday.
A Defense Ministry statement on Rwandan radio said the plane ``was shot down by unidentified elements'' in unclear circumstances. But an official at the airport to welcome Habyarimana home told Reuters two rockets hit the plane as it landed.
An official of the former rebel Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) reached in Kigali said the group was not responsible. Ntaryamira was elected in January to succeed Burundi's first Hutu president, Melchior Ndadaye, who was killed by renegade troops from the Tutsi-dominated Army in a failed coup last October. Ndadaye's murder unleashed a wave of Hutu-Tutsi slaughter throughout Burundi in which up to 50,000 people were killed. Bosnian Serbs defy UN, shell Gorazde
BOSNIAN Serbs shelled the besieged Muslim enclave of Gorazde today despite United Nations Security Council demands that they stop the 10-day-old offensive.
The shellings came a day after Serbs blocked the UN commander for Bosnia from personally viewing the destruction around Gorazde. His report had been expected to be influential - a similar UN survey in February led to the NATO ultimatum that forced Serbs to end their siege of Sarajevo.
Instead, after overnight delays, three UN military observers and eight British liaison officers reached Gorazde, 35 miles southeast of Sarajevo, early today to join four observers already there. The UN commander, Lt. Gen. Sir Michael Rose, said he expected them to provide a more accurate picture of the situation than has been available so far.
The Muslim-led Bosnian government has accused General Rose and other UN officials of trying to play down the severity of the Gorazde attacks by Bosnian Serbs outside town.
But new violence was reported yesterday. ``Four shells landed in the very center of the city, less than a kilometer [half-mile] from the UNHCR office,'' Peter Kessler, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said yesterday. He said UN aid workers in Gorazde reported hearing regular shelling along northern lines about every three minutes. He said 67 people were killed and 325 injured since the offensive began.
Reports of new fighting came hours after Serb leader Radovan Karadzic claimed that it had stopped. While blocking Rose from visiting, Mr. Karadzic asked him to organize truce talks; but the talks, scheduled to start yesterday, were delayed. North Korean legislature approves plans for nuclear energy program
WITH North Korea reportedly facing severe food and power shortages, its rubber-stamp legislature called Thursday for a ``large-scale'' nuclear power program and increased food production.
Defectors have given unconfirmed reports of extreme food shortages. North Korea is also said to be short of energy after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Communist regimes of Eastern Europe led to a cutoff of aid.
North Korea has said its nuclear program is strictly for peaceful purposes and denied Western allegations that it is developing nuclear weapons. But it has blocked international inspections of key nuclear facilities. In two days of meetings, official reports have given no indication that the legislature has discussed the intense international pressure North Korea faces to allow full inspections.