Rwanda: Running The Grenadiers To Ground


April 10, 2011: Grenades have been the terror weapon of choice in Burundi and Rwanda. As Burundi’s civil war slowly ground to a halt, the number of grenade attacks on civilian targets and security targets (especially police stations) began to climb. Over the past three years (2008-2011) Rwanda has gone through cycles of grenade attacks. Typically a bar or bus or open area with people (small market) are the targets. Opposition politicians in Rwanda have suggested that on at least one occasion the grenade attack was sponsored by the government. The truth is, no one is quite sure and those who know keep quiet. Beginning in late February 2011, however, the Rwandan government has been arresting a number of people it claims are involved in grenade smuggling for the purpose of conducting terror attacks and committing other crimes. One of the men arrested operated out of Burundi. The common element in all of the arrests (about three dozen so far) has been the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) militia. The government has also seized over 1000 grenades (primarily US-type M26 grenades and Russian F1 grenades). The FDLR militia primarily operates out of the Congo (North and South Kivu provinces), but has connections to several Hutu extremist organizations. That’s logical – the FDLR was once the Army for the Liberation of Rwanda (ALIR), which was composed of Hutu Interahamwe radicals involved in the 1994 genocide. Around 2000, the ALIR combined with several other extremists factions to become the FDLR. In early March the smuggler with the Burundi connections was arrested while trying to smuggle two grenades into Rwanda’s capital, Kigali. There is an interesting political and information warfare angle to the grenade terror campaign. In response to the cycle of attacks in 2008, the government began a policy of putting Rwandan soldiers on the streets. Well, soldiers were already conducting some patrols, but the government wanted to increase visible presence to deter grenade attacks. Opposition politicians accused the government of imposing a police state. There were also stories going around that the military was involved in the attacks. Recently, a Rwandan Army spokesman said that investigations are continuing and military intelligence is involved in the investigations. That’s because the government regards the FDLR as a military threat. And it is.

April 7, 2011: In ceremonies remembering 17th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, a UN official speaking at ceremonies in Kigali asked east and central African nations to continue to help bring perpetrators to justice.

April 6, 2011: Today is the 17th anniversary of the beginning of the Rwandan genocide. On April 6, 1994, Rwandan president Juvénal Habyarimana and Burundi’s president Cyprian Ntayamira died when their plane was shot down. Over the next two and a half months around 800,000 Rwandans (most of them Tutsis) would be murdered.

April 3, 2011: France announced that it had arrested a Rwandan fugitive who is charged with crimes connected to the Rwandan genocide of 1994.

March 27, 2011: Burundi announced that it has deployed 1,000 of the additional 2,000 soldiers the country has promised to commit to the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia (AMISOM).

March 24, 2011: Rwandan media report that the number of people who do not believe the 1994 genocide occurred on the scale it did is increasing. There are two terms in play: genocide doubters and genocide deniers. One source blames the Internet for spreading stories that the genocide was exaggerated. Analysts point out that the websites are recycling claims made by a number of radical Hutu organizations in the mid to late 1990s. However, the mass grave sites confirmed in Rwanda provided grisly evidence of the size and scope of the murders. If it sounds a little bit like the rise in the number of Holocaust deniers as memories of World War Two fade, well, it is.

March 14, 2011: The Rwandan government has launched another diplomatic offensive against the French investigation into the shooting down of Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana's airplane on April 6, 1994. In 2006 a French judge claimed that forces loyal to current Rwandan president Paul Kagame were involved in the attack on the aircraft.


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