Rwandan `robbers' kill child, wound 20

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The Independent Online
Forces loyal to Rwanda's former extremist Hutu government have been stepping up attacks against towns and villages in the south-west of the country from bases in neighbouring Zaire, United Nations' military sources said yesterday.

According to the sources, the Rwandese Patriotic Army (RPA), Rwanda's national military force, has sent reinforcements to the region to counter what the UN says is the beginning of a low-level insurgency campaign to destabilise the country's six-month-old multi-party government.

Dozens of people have been killed and injured over the past two weeks by the extremists. The UN reported yesterday that "insurgents" attacked an orphanage in the busy market town of Kamembe with grenades and rifles on Tuesday, killing at least one child and injuring about 20 others, one seriously.

Earlier in the week the RPA said it had killed six "robbers" trying to infiltrate the country from Ijwi, a lush tropical island on the Zairean side of Lake Kivu, one of Africa's great lakes. There have also been reports of other infiltration attempts stopped by RPA forces since Sunday.

Robbers and insurgents are the terms used to refer to the members of the extremist Hutu militias in the former government army, who are responsible for the genocide of as many as a million people last April.

In another development, Rwanda's Defence Minister, Major-General Paul Kagame, has ordered all Kigali nightclubs to be closed after allegations that they are owned and operated by RPA officers.

Officials in the Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPS) said that army officers are not supposed to use their position in the military for financial gain. Although it is not clear whether the officers are the owners of the nightclubs, General Kagame has reportedly issued orders to close the clubs to allay suspicions among critics in the government.

The general has also launched a crackdown on soldiers violating rules and those suspected of having committed crimes. A special government commission has been established to monitor the security situation in the country, as well as the behaviour of the RPA.