JUNE 08, 1994

Associated Press

LONDON (AP) -- Thirteen Rwandan clergymen, including the Roman Catholic archbishop of Kigali and two bishops, were killed by four rebel soldiers assigned to guard them, Rwandan rebel radio said Wednesday.

Radio Muhabura, monitored by the British Broadcasting Corp., said three of the soldiers fled and a fourth was shot and killed by other rebel guards. A search was under way to find the escaped soldiers and bring them to trial before a military tribunal, the radio said.

The guards believed the clergymen had taken part in massacres of their relatives, the radio said.

But Col. Frank Mugambage, political director of the rebel Rwandan Patriotic Army, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the rebels "don't really have any evidence" against the clergymen, who were slain as they ate dinner.

The radio named the bishops as the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Kigali, Vincent Nsengiyumva, 58; the president of the Bishop's Conference, Bishop Thaddee Nsengiyumva; and Bishop Joseph Ruzindana of Byumba, 51.

It was not clear if the two Nsengiyumvas were related. The Vatican could not immediately be reached for comment.

The three men had been "placed under the protection" of eight rebel soldiers after the rebels took Kabgayi, 20 miles south of the capital, Kigali, the radio said. Four of the soldiers executed the clergymen, it said.

When the other guards learned about the killings, they killed one of the renegade soldiers, but the other three escaped, Radio Muhabura said.

The radio did not say when the killings took place.

An estimated 200,000 people have been killed in massacres and civil war that erupted after Rwanda's president, a member of the majority Hutu ethnic group, died in a suspicious plane crash April 6. Most of the killings have been blamed on pro-government militias and soldiers. Most of the victims and rebels are minority Tutsis.