Rwanda rebels claim control of strategic points in capital

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The Independent Online
NAIROBI (Agencies) - The rebel Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) announced yesterday that its forces from the north had linked up with a rebel battalion in Kigali and taken control of four strategic points in the capital.

In a broadcast monitored here yesterday by the BBC, the rebel Radio Muhabura also said the northern region of Mutara had been 'entirely liberated' on Tuesday, while RPF forces had encircled government positions

in the northern town of Biumba.

It said the rebel attack in Biumba was halted because the United Nations' Assistance Mission in Rwanda (Unamir) wanted a ceasefire to evacuate its forces there. The radio added: 'There is not a single indication that the government army is able to resist RPF forces in Kigali.' The announcement came as the rebels said they had rejected an appeal from the government for a ceasefire.

In an interview in Kigali with Radio France Internationale (RFI), monitored here, the rebels said their headquarters had rejected the idea of a truce.

An RPF spokesman, Liogene Rudasingwa, said: 'Let me make this very clear: the contacts we have had with the UN have nothing to do with a general ceasefire, or with negotiations leading to the formation of a transitional government.'

Three Spanish nuns, who had decided to stay in their hospital in Rwanda to protect a group of terrified Tutsis, say they will be evacuated and are being escorted to safety, Spain's Foreign Minister said in Madrid yesterday.

'The three sisters decided last night to be evacuated on condition that a Rwandan colleague was also evacuated,' Javier Solana told a news conference. He added that the operation would be 'very risky'. The four nuns had been trapped in a hospital in Kibuye with a group of Tutsi refugees as Hutu tribesmen gathered outside.

The Spanish government has come under sharp criticism from some of its citizens who are evacuees. On her arrival in Nairobi a missionary worker, Uvaldina Martinez, said she was ashamed to be Spanish because there was no one on hand from the Spanish embassy in the Kenyan capital.

Yesterday a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that a Spanish official had been sacked and faced disciplinary procedures for his response to an appeal for help from a member of the Missionary Sisters of Jesus, Mary and Joseph on Sunday.

Alvaro Ozores was sacked after he told a distraught nun who phoned the Foreign Ministry in Madrid seeking information about colleagues trapped in Rwanda: 'We are not here to look for lost nuns in the jungle.'

Sister Dolores Garcia telephoned the ministry to ask for urgent help for three nuns trapped in a hospital at Kibuye, in northern Rwanda. She lodged a complaint after Mr Ozores brushed her off.

The ministry statement, released late on Tuesday, said that 'the treatment meted out by Alvaro Ozores was not in keeping with his responsibilities and correct diplomatic procedures'.

Mr Ozores apologised for his remark in a letter sent to the

ministry. He said it was possible that 'after so many calls, I gave

an improper response as a result of the tiredness caused by the

situation'.

(Map omitted)

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