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Rwanda Counts Genocide Victims

July 18, 2000

KIGALI, Rwanda (AP) _ Six years after hundreds of thousands of people were slaughtered in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, the government has begun a census to work out exactly how many were killed, an official said Tuesday.

``We are going from home to home recording where people were killed and how they were killed (during the genocide),″ said Protais Musoni, a spokesman for the Ministry of Local Government and Social Affairs. ``It’s nationwide.″

The census, which involves a government-appointed team of 1,600 people, began on Monday and will last for 10 days, Musoni told The Associated Press.

More than 500,000 minority Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus died at the hands of former Hutu soldiers and militiamen during a government-orchestrated slaughter that followed the shooting down of Hutu President Juvenal Habyarimana’s plane on April 6, 1994.

The blood bath lasted for 100 days before Tutsi-led rebels of the Rwandan Patriotic Front chased the extremist Hutu government and army into exile.

The precise figure of how many people were slain has never been known.

``We want to know the exact figure because it has always been contested. Some talk about more than 1 million others say 500,000,″ Musoni said. ``Nobody counted...at least this will give us an approximate figure.″

Musoni said the census findings would also help with the country’s reconciliation process and enable it to come to grips with the causes and management of the genocide.

Musoni said the results of the census should be known one month after the count is completed.

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