Share this story
Close X
Switch to Desktop Site

Rwandan Rebels Advance on Capital

Cease-fire appears unlikely to hold

WANDAN rebels advancing on Kigali said yesterday they would impose order in the capital and force government troops in the north to surrender.

A relief force of 4,000 mostly Tutsi Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) rebels trekked toward the capital to reinforce a 600-strong battalion pinned down by the Hutu-dominated government troops, said an RPF official who asked not to be named.

About these ads

Although the government Army and RPF reportedly agreed to a cease-fire on Sunday, its effectiveness is in doubt.

``Both parties reached an agreement on a cease-fire, and apart from some sporadic gunfire, it seems to be respected,'' Col. Luc Marchal of the Belgian United Nations contingent in Kigali told Belgian television network RTBF.

But hours later, France-2 television broadcast comments from RPF leader Theogene Rudasingwa that brought the cease-fire into question. ``We have little option'' but to continue advancing toward Kigali, he said.

The RPF leader said fighting is also taking place on three fronts across northern Rwanda, gripped by a frenzy of tribal slaughter which has killed tens of thousands of people since Rwanda's president, Maj. Gen. Juvenal Habyarimana, and his Burundi counterpart, President Cyprien Ntaryamira, both Hutus, were killed in a rocket attack on their plane Wednesday as they flew back to Kigali from regional peace talks.

Ten Belgian soldiers with the UN peacekeeping force also were killed Thursday while trying to protect Rwandan Prime Minister Agathe Unilingyimana, who was killed in the attack.

Kigali was relatively calm Saturday night, with isolated gunshots but without the sound of heavy weapons that had echoed for three days, said a Red Cross spokesman reached by telephone from Paris. Those who escaped the initial violence now had to deal with clashes between local gangs on the capital's streets, Peter Andrews, a missionary in Kigali, told Sky TV in London.

``We are not in any way threatened'' by fighting between soldiers and rebels, he said. ``But there are bands of youths going around the suburbs, stealing, using grenades, killing people.''

About these ads

``There was a massacre of some sort that happened at this Franciscan missionary on Friday,'' Oxfam spokesman John Magrath said in Oxford, England. ``We don't even know how many people were killed.'' Mr. Magrath said three Oxfam aid workers, from the United States, Britain, and the Netherlands, saw Hutu forces enter the mission.

Security Council members were briefed Saturday by senior UN secretariat officials and the French ambassador on developments in Rwanda, where French troops have arrived to evacuate foreign nationals from the strife-torn African nation. Belgian paratroops were also expected to fly into Rwanda yesterday as part of an international force to help protect and evacuate foreigners.

Hundreds of Americans and Europeans fleeing the country were arriving in safer havens Sunday. Foreigners have generally been spared the violence.

Meanwhile, more than 500 refugees arrived in Tanzania yesterday from Burundi, radio Tanzania said, after the turmoil engulfing Rwanda spread into its central African neighbor. The radio, monitored by the BBC in Nairobi, quoted a student among the refugees as saying the Burundian capital, Bujumbura, was tense, with Tutsi attacks on residential areas occupied by members of the majority Hutu tribe. The attacks were the first evidence of renewed violence in Burundi since its president was assassinated last week.

Follow Stories Like This
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.