Associated Press

April 29, 1997

Gunmen Kill Schoolgirls in Rwanda

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) -- Gunmen opened fire on a group of schoolgirls in northwestern Rwanda, killing 17 girls and their headmistress, a Belgian nun, a Rwandan government spokesman said today.

A suspect was arrested after Monday's attack and confessed to being a Hutu who had slipped into Rwanda from neighboring Zaire along with the other gunmen, said Wilson Rutayisire, director of the Rwandan government information office.

The slayings took place at a school in Gisenyi prefecture, which borders Zaire, after the girls refused the gunmen's order to separate into groups of ethnic Hutus or Tutsis, the Rwandan News Agency said.

``The students refused to comply, and the killers then started shooting indiscriminately,'' the agency quoted survivors as saying.

Seventeen girls were killed and 14 were wounded, nine of them seriously, Rutayisire said by telephone from Kigali, the Rwandan capital. He said the school's headmistress, Griet Bosmans, a 62-year-old Roman Catholic nun, bled to death.

The attack was the second on a school in a month. On March 18, about 20 gunmen fired automatic weapons and threw grenades at school children in Kibuye prefecture, south of Gisenyi, killing five pupils and a watchman. Nineteen others were wounded in that attack, which also occurred after the children refused to separate into groups of Hutus and Tutsis.

About 85 percent of Rwanda's 7 million people are Hutus, while 14 percent are Tutsis. Another 1 percent are Twa.

Violence has grown in Rwanda since December, when more than 800,000 Hutu refugees returned from refugee camps in Zaire, where they had fled in 1994, fearing retaliation for the slaughter of at least 500,000 people, most of them Tutsis.

Hundreds of Hutu militiamen who had been living among the refugees in Zaire were among the returnees.


Associated Press

May 2, 1997

19 Reported Dead in Security Sweep

KIGALI, Rwanda (AP) -- Rwandan soldiers killed 19 former members of the Rwandan army who were involved in a deadly ambush on a school, Radio Rwanda reported Friday.

The government-run radio said the Hutu men were killed shortly after the attack Sunday night on the school in Muramba commune in northwestern Gisenyi prefecture in which 17 schoolgirls, a Belgian nun and four others died.

A suspect in the school killings appeared on Rwandan state television Wednesday and claimed the attack was part of a Hutu plot against the central African country's Tutsi-dominated government. He said about 150 men were based in the heavily forested Virunga volcano chain along Rwanda's border with Uganda and Zaire.

In July 1994, a Tutsi rebel army drove out the Hutu-dominated government that had orchestrated the slaughter of at least a half-million people, most of them minority Tutsis along with some politically moderate Hutus.

An estimated 1.2 million Hutus fled Rwanda after the genocide, among them former soldiers and militiamen responsible for the killings. Many of them have returned to Rwanda and are carrying out raids against police stations, other government installations and schools.

On Sunday, the attackers reportedly ordered the girls to separate in groups according to whether they were Hutu or Tutsi. The girls refused and were shot.

Hutus make up about 85 percent of Rwanda's population; Tutsis 14 percent.