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Rwanda defends plan to close camps

Copenhagen (Reuter) - The Rwandan Prime Minister, Faustin Twagiramungu, yesterday defended his government's decision to close refugee camps which he said harboured Hutu militiamen, and urged all Rwandans to return to their homes.

"Our aim is to get our people back to their place of origin; anti-government militia are being trained in camps in south-west Rwanda and neighbouring countries," he said in Copenhagen.

In Geneva the United Nations criticised the closing of Kibeho camp for displaced Rwandans in the south-west of the country and said it would not forcibly transport the refugees "like cattle". But the UN refugee agency said it was providing trucks for those Rwandans who had agreed to return voluntarily to their villages.

Government troops, who are mainly of the minority Tutsi tribe, shot dead at least 22 people and wounded about 50 at the camp for Hutus on Thursday, according to UN and aid agency officials.

"We want to convince and persuade our people to get out of the camps. We must teach them to live together and abandon killing," Mr Twagiramungu said.

"Maintaining the camps does not inspire confidence in Rwandans in camps in neighbouring countries to return home."