UN Official: Rwandan Refugees Abducted, Presumed Killed With AM-Rwanda, Bjt
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) _ Nearly 100 Rwandan refugees who fled to Burundi were abducted and presumed killed by unidentified assailants, a U.N. official said Wednesday.
Tensions are high between the Hutu majority and the Tutsi minority in Burundi, and many fear an outburst of violence similar to the slaughter in Rwanda, where the two ethnic groups are locked in a savage war.
U.N. refugee agency workers dropped off a group of 500 newly arrived Hutu refugees Saturday in Kiri in northeast Burundi, said Shelly Pitterman, head of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees office in Burundi.
When agency workers returned with trucks the next day to pick up the Rwandans, many of them were missing. Witnesses told U.N. workers the people had been abducted and were presumed killed by the kidnappers.
″We have a list of 91 names of people who are missing and are presumed dead,″ Pitterman said by telephone from Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura.
The rivalry between Hutus and Tutsis in both Rwanda and Burundi has led to repeated bloodbaths since both countries became independent in 1962.
Pitterman and government officials went to Kiri on Monday and found freshly dug graves. They think the kidnap victims may have been killed and buried at the site.
Pitterman said the matter has been turned over to authorities in Burundi for investigation.
Some 78,000 Rwandans, mostly Tutsis, have sought refuge in Burundi to escape fighting in Rwanda that has claimed an estimated 200,000 lives in that country since April, Pitterman said.