Rwanda: July 27, 2002

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One 26 July, the Burundian Army raised it's claim of dead Hutu rebels to at least 500 over the last two weeks, while suffering only 15 losses. Colonel Augustin Nzabampema told reporters that the fighting between the army and Forces in Defense of Democracy (FDD) rebels was concentrated in three central provinces west of Bujumbura. Nzabampema denied recent reports that hundreds of rebels had crossed into Burundi from neighboring Tanzania, saying no rebels had entered the country since last month. However, an anonymous Burundian intelligence officer claimed that more than 1,000 rebels had crossed the border and were preparing to launch an offensive. On 21 July, Burundian Defense Minister Cyrille Ndayirukiye called for international observers to be deployed on the Tanzanian border to monitor alleged incursions of Hutu rebels into Burundi. He claimed that the Tanzanian-based rebels had been crossing the border since early July.

Fighting was continuing in parts of the Gitega province, but the situation had become calm in the provinces of Muramvya and Mwaro. The rebels had also recently attempted to attack an army barracks in the village of Kabezi (about 9 miles southwest of Bujumbura) but were repulsed. 

Between 100 and 150 rebels had attacked Gitega (the country's second-largest city) on 22 and 23 July, killing two people. The rebels had also burnt five vehicles and a home, then looted 30 shops before army troops arrived and forced them to withdraw. The rebels had been bent on destroying personal and public property, and infrastructure such as health centers and coffee factories. Gitega resident Ernest Bigoro told the local Bonesha radio that "there were at least 200 of them, dressed in military uniforms and well armed". FDD Major "Zenon" said the army claims were "pure fabrication", but refused to elaborate. Burundi's civil war erupted in October 1993 and has claimed more than 200,000 people, mostly civilians. - Adam Geibel

 

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