Rwandan rebels attack hundreds of people fleeing their influence

GISENYI, Rwanda (AP) — Machete-wielding Hutu rebels attacked hundreds of civilians in northwestern Rwanda to punish them for seeking protection from the Tutsi-led army, U.N. officials and survivors said Thursday. Ninety-four people have been confirmed dead.
The attacks Tuesday outside the lake town of Gisenyi seemed to be a response to a recent government drive to persuade hundreds of thousands of Hutus in the mountainous northwest to stop providing the rebels with food, shelter and money.
On Thursday, Loui Baganda, one of the victims of the raids, sat on a hospital bed in Gisenyi with his face swollen and bloodied from a machete wound. Next to him, a 3-year-old girl whose arm had been chopped off looked into the distance impassively.
Both escaped the dawn strikes by Hutu rebels in Mutura and Rwerere on Tuesday, which appeared aimed at forcing others to follow the rebels’ increasingly weakened cause.
Although initial reports suggested the number of dead may be higher, hospital sources and U.N. officials said 94 people had been confirmed dead and 67 were wounded.
Ambushes and killings of Tutsis and Hutus allied to the government have intensified since the return in late 1996 of more than a million Hutu refugees from exile.
Authorities say former Hutu soldiers and militiamen, responsible for the 1994 genocide of more than 500,000 Tutsis, slipped back into the country among the returning refugees.