Rwanda Hutu rebels condemn 'terror plot' arrests

2014-04-21 08:57
(Ben Curtis, AP)

(Ben Curtis, AP)

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Kinshasa - Rwandan Hutu rebels exiled in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo have condemned the arrest of a group accused of plotting a grenade attack against the government in Kigali.

Police in Rwanda arrested three men last Monday - well-known musician Kizito Mihigo, radio journalist Cassien Ntamuhanga and former soldier Jean Paul Dukuzumuremyi - accusing them of planning to attack the country's leaders in revenge for the assassination of Patrick Karegeya, a former spy chief and fierce critic of President Paul Kagame.

The three men were said to have ties to the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a rebel group that includes remnants of the militia that carried out the 1994 genocide of Tutsis and is now based over the border in DR Congo.

In a statement on Sunday, the FDLR described the government's decision to arrest the men as an "effort to silence those who refuse to adhere to its sectarian and undemocratic agenda".

"Many more were arrested with false accusations of collaborating with FDLR. FDLR condemns these acts of inhuman treatment of Rwandans by their own government," said the statement, signed by Colonel Willy Irategeka, interim head of the FDLR's armed wing.

Police also accused the arrested men of having ties to the South Africa-based Rwanda National Congress, an exiled opposition group.

The RNC denied any links to the men in a statement last Monday, but accused the government of concocting the terrorist plot to silence its critics.

Karegeya, who lived in exile in South Africa, was found strangled to death in a Johannesburg luxury hotel on New Year's Day.

The FDLR has around 1 500 men, according to UN estimates, or 4 000, according to Kigali. They are scattered across Kivu province in the east of DR Congo, where they have been accused of widespread violence and rights abuses.

The group's armed wing again promised to lay down arms in late 2013 but the Rwandan government has refused to hold talks.

"FDLR is committed to political negotiations and peaceful resolution for Rwanda problems, therefore we have no intention of starting conflicts or creating insecurity in Rwanda," the group's statement said.

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