KIGALI, Rwanda (AP) _ Hutu rebels armed with farming tools hacked 58 people to death after sneaking into northwestern Rwanda, a government official said today.

The rebels attacked the village of Ngugo, near the border town of Gisenyi in western Rwanda, on Friday and started massacring people in their homes, Gisenyi Gov. Jean-Baptiste Muhirwa said.

Muhirwa told the private Rwanda News Agency that 18 families had vanished in the attack.

``They indiscriminately hacked to death babies, women, children, old people, regardless of whether they were Tutsi or Hutu,'' Muhirwa said. The carnage would have continued if the army had not intervened, the news agency said.

Muhirwa said 64 other villagers were wounded in the attack and eight were missing, apparently kidnapped by the rebels.

The military initially reported that 48 civilians had been killed in the Friday attack.

The attack was the second in a week in northwestern Rwanda. Last Wednesday, assailants swinging machetes and hoes slaughtered 33 people in neighboring Ruhengeri region.

The military believes the assailants are Hutu rebels who crossed into Rwanda from neighboring Congo, formerly Zaire.

Thousands of people have been killed since Hutu rebels stepped up attacks in northwestern Rwanda more than a year ago, following the return of more than 1 million Rwandan Hutu refugees.

Many of the rebels _ former Hutu soldiers and militiamen responsible for the 1994 Hutu-state sponsored slaughter of more than 500,000 minority Tutsis _ remained in Congo and launch near-daily cross-border attacks.

The Tutsi-dominated army, which came to power and ended killings in July 1994, claims the rebels are losing ground, but increasingly frequent attacks _ often on civilians _ have continued.

In addition to targeting Tutsis, the army says the Hutu rebels are attacking Hutus who refuse to provide money, food or shelter.