250,000 try to flee Rwanda massacre

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The Independent Online
BYUMBA - Tens of thousands of refugees are streaming out of Rwanda, many of them mutilated in tribal massacres carried out by government troops and extremist Hutu militias.

The UN refugee agency said that more than 250,000 Rwandans had fled genocide to neighbouring Tanzania over the last 24 hours in the 'largest and fastest exodus' it had ever seen. A UNHCR officer saw columns of refugees stretching five miles entering Tanzania's Nagara district.

In New York, Boutros Boutros- Ghali, the United Nations Secretary-General, last night urged the Security Council to consider using force to stop the carnage in Rwanda. 'In making this recommendation, I am of course aware that such action would require a commitment of human and material resources on a scale which member states have so far proved reluctant to contemplate,' he wrote in a letter.

'My six sisters and a brother were all killed. I am the only survivor,' said Christine Ingambira, who fled the capital Kigali to the northern town of Byumba which was taken by rebels of the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) in fighting this month.

Ms Ingambira, 27, said she pretended to be dead among her siblings' bodies so the Hutu militias, known as Interahamwe or 'Those who attack together', would not kill her.

'Our officers said they have seen thousands of refugees, stretching for kilometres along the roads because of the worsening security situation,' a UNHCR official said. 'People here need food, medical care, blankets and cooking utensils. We have 15,000 here,' an official of the International Committee of the Red Cross said in Byumba.

Most of the people on the move in the RPF-held north are apparently Tutsis. Many of the civilians reaching Byumba have horrible machete wounds or have had fingers and ears chopped off.

In the latest massacre, the UNHCR said police and militia yesterday gunned down 300 mainly Tutsi civilians from a crowd of 5,000 trying to escape from a sports stadium where they had been imprisoned in the south-western town Cyangugu. The UNHCR said it had received reports that each night 40 to 50 people from a list of educated Tutsis were being removed from the stadium and butchered.

Witnesses say sections of the security forces and extremist Hutu militias are responsible for the bulk of the mass killings of Tutsis and opposition party Hutus.