NAIROBI, Kenya — Gunmen in uniform slaughtered 54 Rwandan refugees in northern Burundi near the border with Rwanda, indiscriminately gunning down women, men and children, aid workers said Tuesday.
They said 16 refugees were wounded--including a nine-month pregnant woman shot in the stomach--in the attack early Monday on a cluster of makeshift huts in Gittwa village.
The woman's unborn baby was killed.
"When we got there, dead people--men, women and children--were everywhere as if they were indiscriminately machine-gunned," said Joelle Dubois, coordinator for Doctors Without Borders in the northern province of Ngozi.
"The wounded said people in uniform came and began shooting indiscriminately into their huts. Fifty were dead, and as we were picking up wounded two more died," she said by telephone from Ngozi.
Aid workers said 18 wounded were transferred to hospitals by the humanitarian medical group and the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. They said two out of eight badly wounded taken to Ngozi hospital died of their injuries.
The wounded told aid workers that they believed the attackers were members of the Tutsi-dominated Rwandan Patriotic Front, which seized power in Rwanda in July after three months of civil war.
Nearly all the Gittwa refugees are members of Rwanda's Hutu majority who fled across the border to the village in July.
There was no independent confirmation that the gunmen were RPF soldiers.
"The information we have leads us to believe to the best of our knowledge the attackers were people who crossed the border with Rwanda, that this was an incursion," according to one relief worker.