Bombs kill 12 in Rwandan church

Click to follow
The Independent Online
NAIROBI (AFP) - A fragile calm returned to the Rwandan capital, Kigali, yesterday in the aftermath of a mortar bomb attack which killed 12 people seeking refuge in a church on Sunday.

As the flood of Rwandan refugees into neighbouring Tanzania slowed to a trickle, the Rwandan government accused rebels of massacring civilians in the east of the country. Up to 500,000 people have fled into Tanzania in recent days to escape the carnage. Red Cross officials at the border said it was not clear why the exodus had been interrupted.

Abdul Kabia, a spokesman for the UN Assistance Mission in Rwanda (MINUAR), said by telephone from Kigali that shooting in the capital had died down on yesterday morning.

He added that, for the first time since the country was plunged into an ethnic bloodbath on 7 April, civilians had been spotted walking through the city with large containers 'probably in search of water'.

Two shells were fired on Sunday into the central Sainte-Famille Church, where more than 2,000 people fleeing ethnic clashes between mainly-Hutu government forces and the Tutsi-dominated Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) rebels had taken shelter. The shells, which killed 12 people, left another 113 wounded.

The UN special envoy Jacques-Roger Booh-Booh, who left Kigali for Arusha in Tanzania yesterday, said the church shelling had again targeted civilians who were 'innocent victims of a war they do not want'. He urged the warring parties not to attack civilians.

The Rwandan government accused the rebels of carrying out massacres of Hutu civilians in the east of the country. In a statement the foreign ministry said the 'systematic' massacres had taken place in the Kibungo region and were the cause of the refugee exodus to Tanzania.

'These people were fleeing revenge attacks by the hordes of the RPF, who are massacring all Hutus they come across and destroying their possessions,' the statement said. It claimed that RPF rebels had killed 'tens of thousands' of people.