July 7, 2003
At daybreak Hutu FNL rebels fired mortar bombs into Bujumbura, in the fiercest attack on the capital for almost three months. They launched the attack as a warning to the government, after President Ndayizeye threatened to crush their movement. Agathon Rwasa's faction of FNL remains the only group that has not signed a ceasefire agreement with the government.
Government troops claimed to have pushed these rebels out of Bujumbura and that the fighting was confined to the outskirts of the capital, but admitted that the rebels had blocked key roads leading into the capital. The army cleared all of them during the course of the day except for Highway 7 leading to the southeast, finding that one difficult to retake since they feared killing residents taken hostage by the rebels. The rebels are not in uniform and Bujumbura's residents fear that they could be mistaken for combatants during the street battles.
The army's preliminary report saying it had killed seven rebels, but witnesses at the Musaga and Kanyosha suburb (south of the capital, where fighting was heavy) said they had counted 17 to 20 civilian bodies. - Adam Geibel