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Rwandans Protest Rebel Killings

December 18, 1997

KIGALI, Rwanda (AP) _ Hutu rebels ambushed a minibus in northwestern Rwanda, reportedly killing 19 of the 20 people aboard and prompting a protest Wednesday of that and other recent attacks.

``We are tired of dying for nothing,″ said John Rubambura, a Rwandan Tutsi who joined hundreds marching through the capital, Kigali.

Half a million minority Tutsis and Hutus were killed in the 1994 state-sponsored slaughter of those who opposed Rwanda’s militant Hutu government. The country is now Tutsi-controlled.

The private Rwanda News Agency reported Wednesday that Hutu rebels attacked a minibus near Gitarama, 31 miles northwest of Kigali, on Tuesday. One of the people aboard escaped; it was unclear how the 19 others were killed or who they were.

More than 300 Tutsi refugees from neighboring Congo were killed last week when Hutu rebels _ men, women and children _ wielding machetes, guns and hand grenades raided their camp.

The U.N. newsletter in Nairobi, Kenya, reported Wednesday that the Rwandan army had entered Goma, in eastern Congo, apparently to prepare the area for the refugees to return.

``We are continuing to look at all options: repatriation, relocation, resettlement,″ said Paula Ghedini, spokeswoman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

Rwandan, Congolese and U.N. officials agreed in principle Tuesday to repatriate the 17,000 Congolese Tutsi refugees, who fled to Rwanda in 1996 after attacks by Hutu rebels.

The three parties are to meet again Thursday in the Rwandan border town of Gisenyi to decide where to put the refugees.

After last week’s raid, the refugees left for a nearby transit center and many said they wanted to go home.

The Hutu attackers, mainly soldiers and militiamen from Rwanda’s defeated Hutu government, have been launching attacks from thick forests in northeastern Congo, the former Zaire.

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