Troops shell Rwanda refugees

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The Independent Online
NAIROBI - Rwandan army troops shelled a stadium filled with refugees and the UN headquarters in Kigali yesterday, virtually derailing the peacekeepers' efforts to halt the ethnic bloodbath, AP reports.

About 25 people were killed and 52 wounded in the mortar attack on the stadium, where 8,500 refugees had camped under the protection of UN troops, said Abdul Kabia, executive director of the UN mission in Rwanda. He said 20 to 30 mortar shells exploded in the stadium and surrounding area, and one hit the roof of the UN headquarters 150 yards away.

Tanzania's President, Ali Hassan Mwinyi, offered, meanwhile, to try to broker a ceasefire between the Rwandan army and the rebels. He called for peace talks on Saturday in Arusha, where he brokered a ceasefire last August between the government and the rebel Rwandan Patriotic Front. Mr Kabia said it was doubtful the effort would be any more successful than repeated UN attempts to end the fighting.

'It is my hope that the Tanzanians succeed, but . . . the attitude of both sides on the ground is not responsive to mediation at this point,' Mr Kabia said by telephone from Kigali, Rwanda's capital. 'There is no progress at all.'

Tanzania's Foreign Ministry said the warring factions had not responded, but the President remained hopeful they would attend.

The Rwandan government is dominated by the majority Hutu tribe, while the rebels belong to the minority Tutsi tribe. UN efforts to get the army and rebels to agree to a ceasefire and to allow aid to be delivered to refugees were almost at a standstill, Mr Kabia said.