Rwandan army traps Hutus

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The Independent Online
Kigali (AFP) - More than 130,000 Rwandan Hutus huddled on a hilltop without food, water or latrines overnight and throughout yesterday as soldiers of the mainly Tutsi army encircled their displaced persons' camp, relief workers reported.

Ten people died - mostly young children crushed underfoot, according to the relief workers - when the Hutus panicked on Tuesday after the soldiers moved in to Kibeho camp, in the south-west. Some huts went up in flames, but the UN Assistance Mission in Rwanda (Unamir) said the fires were caused by cooking and were not deliberately set.

The soldiers, intent on closing the camp, forced the Hutus out of their huts, spread over five hillsides, and onto the central hill. The spokesman for the United Nations refugees office (UNHCR) in Nairobi, Ray Wilkinson, said they were "packed like sardines".

Mr Wilkinson said it appeared the soldiers intended to interrogate each refugee to ascertain whether he or she had been involved in atrocities during the genocide of Rwanda's Tutsis last year. If the interrogations were properly conducted, they could take "weeks or months", he said.

Joseph Likari, a spokesman for Unamir said it would supply 28 trucks to take most of the Hutus back to their villages. Mr Wilkinson said any UNHCR participation in returning the displaced Hutus would be decided by headquarters in Geneva, but that regional staff were refusing to co- operate because they were "not in agreement" with the way the operation was being carried out.