Rwanda: July 13, 2003

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: At 3 AM, Hutu rebels resumed their worst assault on Burundi's capital in 10 years of war "to alert the world" to the conflict. The rebels also launched a 30-minute raid on a navy camp inside a large military base, where they destroyed an armored car with a rocket before being repelled at around 7:00 AM. The clashes died down around 8:30 AM, by which time all rebels had been chased out of two eastern residential districts and a northeastern neighborhood. 

The army claimed that rebel child-soldiers were on a suicide mission and that the rebels' presence in some of the southern districts had continued to grow until they numbered 2,000. The army estimated that they had killed 28 rebels during the day. 

The aim of the rebellion has been the same for years: to ensure an equal share in army management between the two main ethnic groups in Burundi, the majority Hutus, and the minority Tutsis, who currently have total control of the military. There were unconfirmed rumors suggesting that the FNL had been joined by elements of the Forces for the Defence of Democracy (FDD), which last week officially said that it did not want any part in the fighting. 

It was impossible for the press to contact the rebels, and Information Minister Albert Mbonerane said that journalists who published or broadcast interviews with armed or unarmed opposition groups would be detained. The government had imposed a nationwide curfew from 9 PM to 6 AM for an indefinite period, the first time there has been nationwide curfew since 2001.

The 900 South African-led African Union force have done nothing to stem the violence in the capital. Welile Nhlapo, deputy head of the AU mission, told the press that they were not involved in the fighting, it wasn't their responsibility and they would not let the situation slide into chaotic situation that they could not control. Asked what the force would do if the situation worsened, Nhlapo said he could not predict future actions. - Adam Geibel



 

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