Rwanda: July 17, 2002


Burundi's Army claimed that 219 Hutu rebels and 12 soldiers had been killed in the east and southeast of the central African country, since insurgents launched an offensive on 7 July. The claim could not be immediately confirmed by independent sources.

An army spokesman said the Forces pour la Defence de la Democratie (FDD) rebels are working in two groups, one of which was in the central Mwaro province and the other in the eastern Ruyigi province, where the army had blocked its advance. The rebels were able to infiltrate via Lake Tanganyika and across the River Maragarazi that borders the two countries (and because of the dry season, was shallow enough to walk across).

The fighting against the FDD in the Commune of Bugendana followed reports that the army launched an operation on the 15th to hunt down the rebels in Gitaza and Magara, some 30 km south of the capital, Bujumbura. The fighting closed the 73 km section of National Highway 3 that runs along Lake Tanganyika south to Rumonge. The national BRAGITA brewery in Gitega, (Burundi's second largest city about 65km east of the capital) came under rocket fire on the 17th, when rebel forces closed in to within five km of the urban center. - Adam Geibel


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