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107 Killed in Raid on Rwandan Refugee Camp

August 23, 1997| From Associated Press

KIGALI, Rwanda — Attackers hacked and shot to death 107 Tutsis on Friday and injured 30 others at a refugee camp in northwestern Rwanda, U.N. officials said. The Rwandan government accused Hutu rebels of carrying out the raid.

The marauders set fire to tents at the Mudende camp--which houses 8,000 Tutsi refugees from northeastern Congo--and attacked the civilians with machetes and guns, said Paul Stromberg, spokesman for the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

Two Rwandan soldiers guarding the camp also were killed, and another two were wounded, army Col. Kayumba Nyamwasa said.

Three hundred Hutu insurgents and several hundred local Hutu civilians overwhelmed 15 soldiers guarding the camp, Nyamwasa said. The government sent reinforcements to stop the assault, and 12 assailants were killed before the rest fled, he said.

The attackers included local civilians who had been employed by aid agencies running the camp, Nyamwasa added.

After the attack, most of the refugees fled to the nearby Nkamira transit camp, from which they will be moved to a safer area, the U.N. spokesman said.

Residents of the Mudende camp had fled their homes last year to escape attacks by former Rwandan Hutu soldiers and militias based in camps across the border in Zaire, which since has been renamed Congo.

Several hundred people--including Rwandan civilians, Hutu insurgents and members of the Tutsi-dominated Rwandan Patriotic Army--have been killed in northwestern Rwanda in the past month.

Rwanda is plagued by a bloody rivalry between Hutus and minority Tutsis, who now control the Central African nation's government. In 1994, a government dominated by Hutus presided over the slaughter of more than 800,000 Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus.

Nyamwasa said that, in the past two or three weeks, Hutu rebels in northwestern Rwanda have focused their attacks on civilians, a shift from previous attacks that more often targeted soldiers.

He said Friday's attack, carried out with clubs, machetes and guns, was reminiscent of the 1994 genocide. "Before they were killing Tutsis and moderate Hutus," Nyamwasa said, "and that's what they are doing now."

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