NIA hunts foreign death squads

2011-06-18 18:59

Local intelligence operatives are hunting down Rwandan death squads operating in South Africa.

The hitmen have been dispatched to South Africa to assassinate an exiled general who is allegedly plotting to overthrow the regime of President Paul Kagame.

City Press has learnt that the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) has over the past year thwarted several attempts by Rwandan intelligence operatives to find and kill Lieutenant-General Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa, the former Rwandan army chief.

Nyamwasa, once one of the most powerful men in Rwanda, was shot and wounded in Joburg in June last year when a Rwandan agent came to South Africa and hired Tanzanian gunmen.

City Press can also reveal that the presence of Rwandan death squads in South Africa has triggered a diplomatic crisis between Kigali and Pretoria.

The latter recalled its high commissioner in Rwanda a year ago and has not returned him, while the Rwandan high commission in Pretoria is also without a high commissioner.

The South African secret service chief, Moe Shaik, has over the past year been dispatched to Rwanda several times to dissuade Rwandan intelligence commanders from sending their hitmen to South Africa.

Approached for comment, Shaik referred City Press to NIA spokesperson Brian Dube, who did not respond to questions.

Nyamwasa was once a close ally of Kagame but became his prime enemy when he was recently instrumental in forming the Rwanda National Congress, which is intent on ousting the president.

Nyamwasa was last year granted political asylum in South Africa and is currently under witness protection in a safe house.

City Press was told that further evidence emerged of Rwandan death squads last week when an alleged agent was arrested in Kampala, Uganda.

The agent had a large amount of money on him, carried a gun and had three passports, one of which included a South African visa.

The Rwandan government did not respond to any requests for comment.

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