Rwanda: Hutu Hostility Turns Inward


May 4,2008: Another series of gun battles have broken out between rebel FNL factions and the Burundian Army. A major firefight erupted May 1, ten kilometers from Bujumbura. On May 2 the government reported that four rebel fighters and one Burundian Army soldier had died in what was described as an FNL-initiated ambush. The fighting has displaced 3,500 people. The government continues to reject a new "power-sharing deal" demanded by the FNL rebels.

May 1, 2008: The Rwandan government is once again emphasizing "anti-genocide ideology" education, especially in Rwanda's Southern province. The Rwandan government uses the term "genocide ideology" to refer to the ethnic and regional tensions which led to the 1994 genocide of Rwandan Tutsis. This is clearly a political information campaign, with a direct person to person component as well as radio programming. Local courts ("Gacaca" traditional courts in many cases) are still prosecuting people who committed crimes during the genocide.

April 30, 2008: Burundian forces launched an air strike on rebel FNL positions in the Rukoko Swamp northwest of Bujumbura. The area is on the Burundi-Congo border and is used as a base camp area and an infiltration route by various rebel groups. The report did not specify the type of aircraft, but Burundi military airstrikes are usually delivered by armed helicopters. There were a series of firefights began on April 28, leaving 17 FNL rebels and four Burundian Army soldiers dead. Given the area where the fighting is taking place, this does look like a government offensive.

April 26, 2008: Burundi's president called for international and regional involvement to help stop the new round of fighting that began April 17.

April 23, 2008: FNL guerrillas fired mortars into Bujumbura. There were no reported casualties.

April 19, 2008: This time it is more than a firefight. The Burundian Army and a rebel faction of the FNL-Palipehutu have engaged in a series of running battles with FNL rebels. This appears to be the biggest outbreak of combat in the last twelve months. The government used attack helicopters against rebels in the Bubanza area northwest of Bujumbura. In the last two days six Burundian soldiers have been killed and an estimated 20 rebels killed. An FNL spokesman said that the government had launched an attack in the area. Bubanza is regarded as an FNL stronghold. The FNL has also denied accusations that the Rwandan Hutu rebel militia in the Congo, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) was aiding the FNL. Both the FDLR and FNL, however, are ethnic Hutu rebel groups.

April 17, 2008: A rebel FNL faction mortared a military post outside of Bujumburu.

April 9, 2008: A Burundian Army soldier serving with African Union peacekeeping forces in Somalia died from wounds. The soldier was wounded in a suicide bomb attack April 8. The attack occurred in Mogadishu.

April 2, 2008: The UN Peace Building Commission in Burundi has urged the Burundian Government and the FNL to continue Burundi's reconciliation process and implement the 2006 Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement. The UN report comes as violence has flared in rural Burundi. In early March grenade attacks were made on the homes of four members of Burundi's parliament in the capital, Bujumbura. In July 2007 the FNL-Palipehutu withdrew from participating the Joint Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (ceasefire monitoring agreement group originally run by UN peacekeeping mission in Burundi).




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