Associated Press

May 2, 1997

Burundi Army Killed Hutus

BUJUMBURA, Burundi (AP) -- Burundi soldiers killed at least 50 Hutu rebels following deadly attacks against Roman Catholic targets earlier in the week, the military acknowledged Friday.

The heavy violence of the past days drew condemnation from the Vatican, the United Nations, and from U.S. officials who blamed both sides for targeting innocent citizens.

Burundian Foreign Minister Kalonzo Musyoka warned that the central African country was ``degenerating into unpredictable political chaos.''

The army's attack against Hutu rebels took place Thursday in provinces south of the capital along Lake Tanganyika, Maj. Mamert Sinarinzi said. He did not say whether any soldiers or civilians also were killed.

Hutu rebels on Wednesday had killed as many as 46 people in an attack on a Roman Catholic seminary in Butu, about 9 miles east of the southern provincial capital of Bururi.

The Burundian military said the toll was 41 dead and 30 wounded. But an unidentified missionary interviewed on Vatican Radio said 46 people were killed and as many as 46 injured.

``Armed Hutu bands are attacking and sowing terror and death,'' he told Vatican Radio in Rome. The station said it was withholding the missionary's name to protect him.

The report said Pope John Paul II had condemned the ``barbaric'' massacre in a message of condolence read at funerals for the seminary victims.

The missionary said the rebels moved on to Bururi the next day and attacked the bishop's residence, a convent, a high school and the cathedral, where some of those who had fled the seminary attack were hiding.

He did not offer any toll of victims in the second round of attacks.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan also condemned the violence, as did the U.S. State Department, which issued a statement blaming both the government and rebels for the surge in violence.

``We condemn the recent acts of senseless brutality against unarmed civilians in Bururi and Makamba provinces. Insurgent attacks against unarmed civilian populations and government reprisals against other defenseless targets are equally reprehensible,'' the statement said.

Burundi's Tutsi-dominated military warned last week that Hutu rebels based in northern Tanzania posed a growing threat to the stability of the central African country, which borders Zaire and Rwanda.

``We cannot continue to tolerate the activities of these terrorists,'' Maj. Pascal Nimubona said in a radio interview.

Hutu rebels are fighting the Tutsi-dominated army in an attempt to oust military leader Pierre Buyoya.

They say the minority Tutsis, who have ruled Burundi for most of its 35 years of independence, were responsible for the 1993 death of Melchoir Ndadaye, the country's first democratically elected president and a Hutu.

Since then, more than 150,000 people have died, many of them civilians caught in the fighting between army and rebels.