More pictures from the August 13th 2004 Gatumba massacre
On August 13, 2004 a force of armed combatants, many of them members of the Forces for National Liberation (Forces pour la Liberation Nationale, FNL), massacred at least 152 Congolese civilians and wounded another 106 at Gatumba refugee camp, near Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi. The FNL is a predominantly Hutu rebel movement known for its hostility to Tutsi and the victims were largely Banyamulenge, a group often categorized with Tutsi.
Witnesses described finding charred and bloody bodies at the camp for the Tutsis escaping recent violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
"People were sleeping when the attack happened. People were killed as they tried to escape," Eliana Nabaa of the UN mission in Congo said, quoted by the Associated Press news agency.
"The scene is absolutely horrific. There are many people burnt - families, children, women and men burnt," she said".
The attackers... moved towards the refugee camp, playing drums, ringing bells, blowing whistles, and singing religious songs in Kirundi. At least two local residents heard them sing, “God will show us how to get to you and where to find you.” One other heard shouts of “Ingabo Z’Imana,” “[We are] the army of God.” Many reported hearing attackers sing choruses of “Allelluia” and “Amen.”
Even in the midst of the noise and confusion of the attack some refugees did not immediately understand the danger. Some believed the attackers were bandits coming to steal the cows stabled nearby. Others believed those singing the religious songs had come to save them especially since some attackers were shouting “Come, come, we’re going to save you”. Anyone who stopped out the entry of a tent was immediately gunned down, as was one father who sought to save his two children by flight. The attackers, usually only two or three at a time, ripped open the tent flaps and slit the sides of the tent. Often they stayed at the entrance to the tent and either ordered people to come out or just began shooting into the tent. They then threw or shot incendiary grenades that caused the tents to catch fire.
Of the just over 800 refugees, 152 were killed, all Banyamulenge except for fourteen Bembe people. One hundred and six were wounded. Most victims were women and children. Early the next morning a Human Rights Watch researcher went to the site. She found government and international officials preoccupied with determining the cause and extent of the disaster. Ignored by all of them, a child three or four years old stood alone crying in front of a still smouldering tent.
Burundi, human rights, Current Affairs, Politics, Africa
Take action - Fax your MP!