300 die in attack on Rwandan jail

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The Independent Online
Almost 300 people died when Rwandan Hutu insurgents attacked a jail for genocide suspects in north-western Rwanda, the regional military commander said.

Kayumba Nyamwasa said 1,200 rebels attacked the jail in Giciye, east of Gisenyi, on Monday during fighting between the army and rebels; 88 prisoners died, most of them caught in the crossfire as they tried to escape. Others were burned to death after the rebels firebombed the jail; 93 prisoners escaped.

The attack led to two more days of fighting, in which, Colonel Kayumba said, two soldiers and 200 rebels died. The jail, a makeshift detention centre, is one of hundreds around the country housing many of the estimated 120,000 people awaiting trial on charges of involvement in the 1994 genocide, in which 800,000 Tutsis and Hutu opponents of the regime were killed.

It appears the rebels were trying to free their fellow Hutus, presumably to boost their own numbers. It is less clear why the rebels should have set fire to the prison. Col Kayumba ruled out the possibility that the soldiers had attacked the prisoners. There have been a number of similar attacks since the insurgents stepped up their campaign of violence in May.