Great Lakes: IRIN Update 82, 01/20/97

Great Lakes: IRIN Update 82, 01/20/97

Department of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Network

Tel: +254 2 622147
Fax: +254 2 622129

IRIN Emergency Update No.82 on the Great Lakes (Saturday-Monday 18-20 January 1997)

# Gunmen killed three Spanish nationals working for Medecins du Monde-Spain (MDM) in Ruhengeri, northwestern Rwanda on 18 January. Reuters reported that the killers checked the passports of the victims, two men and a woman, and then shot them through the head. Assaults also left three Rwandan soldiers dead and a US national, who also worked for MDM, severely injured. Rwandan authorities told AFP that an unspecified number of attackers set upon the headquarters of MSF-Holland, but were repulsed by security forces. Then they attacked the compound containing MDM, Save the Children, and finally the military camp of Muhoza. Major Wilson Rutayisire of Rwanda's information office told AFP that grenades, rockets and machine-guns were heard in the battle.

The attackers are alleged to be members of the Hutu ex-FAR and Interahamwe, who were apparently looking for cash and medical supplies. However, humanitarian sources commented that the attackers had left cash and portable computers on the premises when they fled. AFP said that the attackers had all escaped into the countryside. A former ex-FAR corporal who worked as a security officer for MDM was arrested after the assailants reportedly shouted his name during the attack. MDM announced in a communique that it was suspending its activities in Rwanda "until the circumstances of this tragedy are cleared up." Some expatriate humanitarian workers have been temporarily removed from the area pending the outcome of NGO/UN/government meetings to discuss security.

Although Gisenyi prefecture is considered a particularly high-risk area the attack was the worst carried out against aid agencies in the region. Several expatriate workers in Rwanda feel that humanitarian agencies have been specifically targeted in order to drive them out of the area. Most of the recent attacks, which are attributed to members of the ex-FAR/Interahamwe, have been concentrated in the provinces of Gisenyi and Ruhengeri, which borders on Zaire and is home to several thousand Hutu returnees.

On January 11, a hospital in Kabaya was attacked and its pharmacy pillaged by a militia force of some 60 men. Three Rwandans were killed and another three were injured in the incident, and two foreign surgeons working with MSF received death threats. The following day, 12 Rwandans were killed by militiamen outside Giciyi. In the same area, grenades were thrown at a construction truck owned by a Chinese company engaged in road repairs. On 13 January, armed Hutu men beat, robbed and threatened to kill UN human rights observers working in the area. A witness told Reuters that when the human rights observers were beaten up on Monday, more than 100 local people stood around laughing and clapping their hands in encouragement.

# AFP and Burundi radio reported that Burundi's intelligence services arrested and were searching the homes of former president Jean-Baptiste Bagaza and other leading Tutsis on 19 January. The arrests come after several radical Tutsi leaders spoke out against Burundi's military leader Major Pierre Buyoya in recent weeks. Bagaza, who is regarded by many observers as a Tutsi extremist, was president from 1976 until he was displaced by Buyoya in a 1987 military coup. On Monday, Burundian authorities announced that Bagaza had been placed under house arrest.

Bagaza has been outspoken in his criticism of both the coup, stating that it would not resolve Burundi's problems, and the military's choice of Buyoya as leader. A spokesperson for Bagaza told AFP that other Tutsis arrested included Bagaza's nephew Innocent Sabiyumva, Colonel Pascal Ntako, and Deo Niyonzima. Deo Niyonzima, formerly a Dominican monk, is the head of the organization Youth Solidarity for the Defence of the Minorities (SOJEDEM), a radical Tutsi movement influential among young Tutsis. On Friday, the intelligence service was also reported to have held 22 members of the SOJEDEM executive committee for questioning. No arrests were reported in Hutu circles.

On 17 January, a spokesperson for the main Hutu-dominated movement in Burundi, National Council for the Defence of Democracy (CNDD), claimed that Buyoya's regime has killed nearly 40,000 civilians since it seized power in July 1996, reported AFP.

CNDD charge that over 3,000 civilians have been killed by the Tutsi-dominated army in Kayanza province alone since December 1996. Religious sources gave AFP similar estimates of civilians killed as a result of army operations against Hutu rebels in Kayanza province. The region's military commander denied the figure, saying only 30 people had died.

# In a 16 January press conference, following his tour of rebel held towns, Laurent-Desire Kabila told AFP that more than 60 people were killed over the last week in skirmishes between Zairian troops (FAZ) and Allied Democratic Forces for the Liberation of the Congo-Zaire (ADFL) rebels near Lubutu in eastern Zaire. He further claimed that 50 FAZ and two white mercenaries were among those killed. Kabila added that his number two, Andre Ngandu Kisase, who has been absent from the scene since early January, had been wounded in an ambush but did not provide any further details. A security source in the region told Reuters that Kisase had actually been killed by Mai-Mai in an ambush near Butembo on 8 January. There has been no independent confirmation of this story.

Kabila's press conference also included a message to FAZ forces that a military coup to overthrow the Kinshasa government would be detrimental to Zaire, resulting in her "Balkanization".

# In a move that analysts attribute to the recent renewal of fighting between rebel and Zairian forces (FAZ)and the threatened counter-offensive, ADFL forces have tightened controls and clamped down on communication between Goma and the outside world.

# UN sources said that two additional way stations have been opened in rebel held territory at Karuba and Kilolwire, located 17 km west and 35 km north of Sake. These way stations were opened to assist Rwandan refugees stranded in the Masisi area as a result of the prevailing insecurity.

# Doctor Abdou Moudi, a WHO official in Kinshasa, informed the international community that a cholera epidemic was evolving in Tingi-Tingi, said Reuters. He said some 56 cases have already been diagnosed among the refugees.

# On 15 January, Honore Ngbanda the president's security advisor told Zairian state radio that rumours in the national and international press that Mobutu was to undergo fresh surgery for cancer, were based on malicious political speculation. He said that the doctors were happy with the results of Mobutu's medical tests and following a few days rest he was expected to return to Zaire. However, Reuters reported that Mobutu was once again admitted to hospital on Saturday. Members of his entourage refused to comment on this latest admission.

# AFP reported that authorities in Zaire have ordered the re-registration of all vehicles, estimated at around 363,000, in a campaign to counter the widespread thefts, which occurred during the 1991 and 1993 looting of Kinshasa. The re-registration which costs $126 US is expected to bring nearly 300 million dollars into the public coffers.

# In Arusha, Tanzania, British reporter Lindsey Hilsum testified before the UN International Tribunal at the trial of the first defendant Jean-Paul Akayesu, former mayor of the central Rwandan town of Taba. Hilsum, a freelance journalist, testified as to the horrors she had witnessed as the 1994 massacres began. According to AFP, Hilsum's testimony was aimed at establishing that mass killings that taken place as part of widespread plan of genocide against those of Tutsi ethnicity.

# A third suspect in the Rwandan genocide trials, Francois Bizimutima received the death sentence on Friday. According to a Reuters report, the first two defendants to receive the death penalty, Deogratias Bizimana and Egide Gatanaze, filed appeals on 16 January within the statutory 15-day deadline. Under Rwanda's Genocide Law passed in 1996, those convicted must file an appeal within 15 days of conviction and it must be heard within three months by the Court of Appeal. If the sentences are upheld, the two men face execution by firing squad.

# According to an AFP report, a government delegation from Rwanda's ongoing war crimes tribunal was expected to arrive in South Africa on 19 January to discuss possible areas of cooperation between the Rwandan tribunal and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). The TRC, which was established to probe into human rights abuses committed during South Africa's political struggle is empowered to grant reparations to the victims as well as amnesty or indemnity from prosecution to perpetrators who confess their crimes.

A previous visit to Kigali in September 1996 by a delegation from the South African TRC assisted Rwanda in formulating a reparation policy to deal with the victims of the 1994 genocide.

# According to AFP, a government Information Bulletin issued 16 January gives Ugandan public leaders, "from the president to heads of departments, chairpersons of local councils and even school heads," until January 31 to declare their wealth or face disciplinary action. The order is in line with the parliamentary Leadership Code Statute passed in 1992 in response to public concern over alleged corruption and other malpractice in government.

# At least 100 people living in the north of Kitgum district, Uganda, are estimatedto have been killed and 20,000 people displaced from their homes followingattacks by the Lords Resistance Army. Displaced people from Lokung, about 15 km south of the border with Sudan, first began arriving in Kitgum town on 11 January. Individuals interviewed by aid workers said that LRA rebels had arrived in Lokung and distributed leaflets ordering them to leave their homes for Kitgum. They then began killing people and burning their homes and granaries.

As of 16 January the local authorities estimated that there were 10,000 displaced people living in Kitgum town, with another 5,000 near Palabek and 5,000 more in the area between Lokung and Padibe. However, LRA attacks near Palabek were reported to be continuing last Thursday. In a Kitgum hospital there are patients suffering from severe wounds received during the attacks. Several patients had head wounds where they had been beaten with axes. The hospital is supported by AVSI.

Although Kitgum has experienced abductions in recent months as well as insecurity arising from LRA rebels passing through the district, such killings and large-scale displacement have until now been focussed on Gulu district to the west. These attacks have prompted debate as to whether the LRA is now increasingly targeting Kitgum and seeking to control a stretch of territory in the north of the district.

Nairobi, 20 January 1997, 17:15 gmt [ENDS]

[Via the UN DHA Integrated Regional Information Network. The material contained in this communication may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. UN DHA IRIN Tel: +254 2 622123 Fax: +254 2 622129 e-mail: for more information. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer.]

Date: Mon, 20 Jan 1997 20:10:48 +0300 From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 82 for Jan 1997 97.1.20 Message-Id: <>

Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D

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