RPF kills refugee at border crossing

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KIGALI - Troops of the Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF) shot and killed a refugee returning home on a United Nations convoy as he tried to escape from them, a UN spokesman said yesterday.

The refugee was detained at a checkpoint on the edge of the UN 'safe zone' in southwestern Rwanda late on Saturday when a convoy of five British army trucks carrying 200 Hutu refugees home crossed into RPF territory. The UN spokesman, Major Jean-Guy Plante, said the man fled his captors and was pursued by 15 RPF soldiers.

Five bursts of automatic fire were heard and the troops returned saying they had killed the man who was apparently suspected of involvement in the massacres of Tutsis earlier this year. The UN estimates that one million people were killed in a campaign of genocide by the former government against Rwanda's minority.

Three men from the convoy were also detained at the checkpoint, 25 miles east of the lakeside border town of Kibuye, and the UN was trying to discover their whereabouts. 'The RPF can arrest, search or detain someone they suspect of crimes. They have the right to take whatever security measure they deem appropriate to protect themselves and all law-abiding citizens,' Major Plante said.

He also admitted that the situation was embarrassing for the UN but no formal protest would be made. The UN would review its procedures for repatriation because of the shooting. Each day about 1,000 are taken back voluntarily in UN trucks.

The UN has distributed leaflets in the camps to try to assure about 1.2 million Hutu refugees in Zaire and 500,000 people displaced inside Rwanda that it is safe to go back home after the end of the civil war that began in April.

The defeated Hutu government, holed up in eastern Zaire, has launched a campaign of propaganda and intimidation to keep the Hutu refugees in exile, telling them they will be slaughtered by the RPF if they return.