Rwanda: August 25, 2002

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Rumors of an imminent FNL (National Liberation Forces) rebel attack had been circulating in Burundi for about a week when it became reality at dawn on 25 August, with rebels lobbing mortars and grenades into the capital's northern Gikungu district. Government troops quickly took up positions and began skirmishing inside the city, while others responded with tanks and artillery. The Army claimed to have repulsed the attack and killed 24 rebels, at the cost of three troops and three civilians KIA. Other sources believed at least two soldiers had been killed near a water tower in the northeast of the capital. The attack shattered hopes of endin nine years of civil war on the eve of planned peace talks.

Two South African peacekeepers were also wounded, when a shell landed near the home of a minister they were guarding. One was seriously wounded and would be evacuated to South Africa.

There were plenty of indicators of an upcoming attack. The Army claimed that between 200 and 300 Forces for the Defence of Democracy (FDD) rebels entered Burundi from Tanzania on the night of 20 August and were about 100 miles from Bujumbura by the 22nd. The UN later reported that at least 2,000 civilians fled their homes in Bujumbura's Rural Province on the 20th. - Adam Geibel


 

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