The Jungle Massacre: African rebels who revel in their machete genocide

THE HUTU rebels' trademark is death by machete. Five years ago the same murderous militiamen were raping, hacking and bludgeoning their way across Rwanda, at the vanguard of the genocide in which at least 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus died.

The nationwide killing spree lasted 100 days.

Called the interahamwe, which means those who stand together, the Hutu extremists of Rwanda attempted their own Final Solution on their fellow countrymen, the minority Tutsis.

To hold on to control of a country that was set to switch to power-sharing between Hutus (85 per cent of the population) and Tutsis - they engineered a campaign of mass murder.

For months leading up to the massacres the interahamwe distributed racist propaganda against the "cockroaches" (the Tutsis). Playing on the Hutus' deep-rooted sense of inferiority, they convinced them that their very survival depending on eliminating the other side.

On the evening the Hutu president Juvenal Habyarimana, died in a mysterious plane crash, the first wave of killings began. The interahamwe organised road blocks at which terrified Tutsis were stopped, asked to produce their identity cards - on which ethnicity had been recorded since colonial times - and then them led away or hacked them to death on the spot with farm implements and machetes.

The killing did not break out everywhere at once. While some Hutus were happy to take up the machete and the gun against their neighbours, and even relatives and spouses, others were understandably reluctant to kill. Even in the prevailing culture of obedience - where what the headman said was slavishly followed - some villages held out against the madness. But the interahamwe roamed the country, stoking the fire, keeping mass murder going.

They led by threat and by example. They were never slow to lift a machete and hack a child to death, or to rape a young girl after forcing her to witness the murder of her family. Reluctant Hutus - adults and children - were shown just how easily it was done.

When millions of Hutu refuges - led, post-genocide, into exile in the Democratic Republic of Congo (then Zaire) by their leaders - returned to Rwanda in 1996, the interahamwe had to stay behind. They sent their children home alone. They were easy to spot. Sad, bewildered little souls carried along by the crowd.

But Rwanda's jails were already bursting with 130,000 men and women implicated in the genocide. The architects of mass murder could never return home.

So they have remained in Congo, launching regular attacks across the border. The threat they continue to present to Rwanda has already caused two regional wars.

They have grown more and more audacious, creeping across the Congolese border and infiltrating north-west Rwanda, the traditional Hutu homeland. It was a nightmare for local Hutus. Caught between a frustrated Rwandan army and the Hutu thugs, civilians have been murdered by both sides.

Last year interahamwe attacks were spreading across Rwanda, even closing on the capital, Kigali. There was panic. And late last year the government fought back.

With a combination of military attacks, and a campaign to win over the local Hutu population, the Rwandan army has successfully flushed out many of the extremists. Controversially, the government is currently moving 600,000 Hutus from their isolated hillside homes into villages. It says it is doing this to protect civilians. But it is also a method of social control, allowing its forces to separate Hutu insurgents from the local population.

Success within its own borders has displaced the murderers, who are becoming more and more desperate. More are holed up in Congo, where Rwandan troops arehunting them down, and hiding in the wilder parts of south-west Uganda from where the Western tourists were abducted this week.

Reports that Americans and Britons were singled out by the Hutu militiamen who struck in Uganda's Bwindi National Park are gruesome. They echo the selection of all those hopeless Tutsis for death by machete in 1994.

Yesterday Anne Peltier, France's deputy ambassador to Uganda, who escaped the attack, relayed another message from the kidnappers. The interahamwe were unhappy with America and Britain for supporting Rwanda's new Tutsi- led government "against the ethnic Hutu majority".

Ms Peltier, had managed to negotiate the freeing of hostages of other nationalities.

Rwanda's government is undoubtedly led by the minority Tutsis. That is not the democratic ideal but then this is a country where the majority tried to wipe out their minority countrymen. And the government can claim to be attempting reconciliation. More than half its ministers are moderate Hutus.

America and Britain strongly support the new regime, filling a diplomatic gap left by the French. France was a strong supporter of the Hutu government which presided over the genocide, and its troops stand accused of helping tens of thousand of Hutu murderers escape into exile in Congo after the killings in the infamous Operation Turquoise.

France is hated by the new Rwandan regime. And the Hutu extremists, who continue to incite Hutus to rise up and complete the genocide, hate the British and Americans for supporting the new government.

The murders in Bwindi Park are power to the Rwandan regime's refusal to negotiate with the desperate remnants of the Hutu militias who all but destroyed the country in 1994.

The only "political" objective of the interahamwe seems to be the completion of its Final Solution. The Rwandan government compares speaking to the interahamwe to asking the Jews to negotiate with the Nazis in the Second World War. On yesterday's showing, who would disagree?

Cook's statement, page 8

Sport
Thiago Silva pulls Arjen Robben back to concede a penalty
world cup 2014Brazil 0 Netherlands 3: More misery for hosts as Dutch take third place
Sport
Robin van Persie hands his third-place medal to a supporter
Van Persie gives bronze medal to eccentric fan moments after being handed it by Blatter
News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
scienceScientists have developed a material so dark you can't see it...
News
Monkey business: Serkis is the king of the non-human character performance
peopleFirst Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Arts and Entertainment
Blackman: Landscape of children’s literature does not reflect the cultural diversity of young people
booksMalorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Voices
Mrs Brown's Boy: D'Movie has been a huge commercial success
voicesWhen it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Life and Style
Once a month, waistline watcher Suran steps into a 3D body scanner that maps his body shape and records measurements with pinpoint accuracy
techFrom heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
News
Soft power: Matthew Barzun
peopleThe US Ambassador to London, Matthew Barzun, holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence. He says it's all part of the job
Sport
Joe Root and James Anderson celebrate their record-beaking partnership
cricketEngland's last-wicket stand against India rewrites the history books
News
Gavin Maxwell in Sandaig with one of his pet otters
peopleWas the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?
News
Rowsell says: 'Wearing wigs is a way of looking normal. I pick a style and colour and stick to it because I don't want to keep wearing different styles'
peopleThe World Champion cyclist Joanna Rowsell on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, Accreditation, ITIL)

£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...

C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Integration Developer (.NET, Tibco EMS, SQL 2008/2012, XML)

£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...

Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

Day In a Page

Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?