Hutu slaughter of 200 Tutsis reopens Rwanda's wounds

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Hutu rebels in Rwanda appear to be stepping up their attacks on Tutsi survivors of the 1994 genocide. Brennan Linsley of Associated Press reports from Kigali on the latest atrocity.

Suspected Hutu rebels attacked a camp for Tutsi refugees in north-western Rwanda yesterday, killing as many as 200 people.

The attackers raided about 100 tents in the camp, which houses several thousand refugees from the Masisi area in neighbouring Congo, according to Paula Ghedini, spokeswoman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The Rwandan military put the death toll at 230.

The marauders used hand grenades, machetes and guns during the 15-minute, early morning raid, said Colonel Kayumba Nyamwasa, a regional commander of Rwanda's Tutsi-led army.

Col Kayumba said soldiers had been unable to repel the attackers, who fled into Congo after the slaughter.The UNHCR requested medical supplies for about 200 wounded being treated at the hospital in Gisenyi, about 100 km north-west of the capital, Kigali.

It was the second attack on Mudende camp since August, when more than 100 refugees were killed during a raid blamed on Hutu rebels.

The refugees had fled the Masisi region in mid-1996 to escape attacks by Hutu rebels, who were then based at the refugee camps in eastern Zaire, since renamed Congo.

Authorities say the rebels, responsible for the deaths of 500,000 minority Tutsis in Rwanda's 1994 Hutu genocide, have mixed with more than 1 million Hutu civilians who returned to Rwanda late last year.

Rwanda's Tutsi-led government blames the rebels for a surge in violence in the north-western corner of Rwanda. Barely a week passes without a rebel ambush or an attack on a jail.

Yesterday's attack coincided with US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's one-day visit to Kigali, where she met President Pasteur Bizimungu and Vice President Paul Kagame.

Ms Albright said: "There is clearly room for improvement in the human rights record for Rwanda. Given the history of the genocide ... we understand how difficult it must be for them. A lot has been done already [to improve human rights] but they have a long way to go."

Ms Albright said the US was determined to help Rwanda come to terms with the aftermath of the 1994 genocide.