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

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
News
news
Life and Style
Jack Cooksey goes for the grand unveiling - moments before dropping his new iPhone 6 on the floor
iphone launch
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
football
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Latest stories from i100
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

Primary Supply Teacher - Loughborough

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: Are you a Teacher looking fo...

Primary General Cover Teachers

Negotiable: Randstad Education Leicester: Are you a Newly Qualified Teacher lo...

Part Time Primary Teacher

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: Part Time Primary TeacherOur...

Science Technician

£7 - £8 per hour: Randstad Education Cheshire: The Job:School Science Technici...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week