U.S. will help probe Rwandan massacre
Albright makes announcement during African travels
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December 12, 1997
Web posted at: 5:20 p.m. EST (2220 GMT)
KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo (CNN) -- U.S.
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright pledged Friday to send
a State Department expert on crimes against humanity to
investigate the massacre of more than 200 ethnic Tutsi
refugees in Rwanda.
The Tutsis, from the neighboring Democratic Republic of
Congo, were killed at Mudende camp, about 80 miles (120 km)
northwest of the Rwandan capital of Kigali.
U.N. aid workers and government soldiers were still counting
bodies, a day after the attackers set fire to 200 huts and
used machetes, hand grenades and guns against the refugees.
The death of three wounded Friday brought the death toll to
234, but it could still rise, said Paula Ghedini, spokeswoman
for the U.N. refugee agency. But a teacher at the camp
estimated that up to 900 people may have been massacred.
There were 227 victims hospitalized in Gisenyi, northwest of
Kigali. Most were in serious condition with severe head
wounds caused by machetes or nail-studded clubs, Ghedini
One survivor, whose son was hacked to death, said: "They
came very quietly while we were sleeping and we had no chance
to escape. They just started chopping, chopping, chopping."
War-crimes expert assigned to job
In Geneva, a spokeswoman for the U.N. High Commissioner on
Refugees said the attack was the worst to date on a refugee
camp in Rwanda. About 17,000 refugees fled the camp after
the raid, the UNHCR said.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in New York that he
was "profoundly shocked" by the slaughter of "defenseless
refugees," mostly women and children.
It was the second attack on Mudende since the killing of 148
people, mostly ethnic Tutsis from the Congo, by suspected
Hutu rebel gangs in August.
Albright, who is on a seven-nation African tour, said she was
asking U.S. war crimes envoy David Scheffer to go to Rwanda
to help investigate the latest massacre.
Scheffer has been accompanying Albright, who was in Rwanda on
Thursday. She announced Scheffer's mission at a news
conference in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic
Republic of Congo, before traveling on to Angola.
Congo President Laurent Kabila, who met with Albright on
Friday, called for an international investigation into the
refugee massacre. He estimated "at least 800 refugees" were
killed at the Mudende camp.
Albright condemns violence
Albright was the most senior U.S. official to visit Rwanda
since the 1994 genocide of about 800,000 Tutsis and moderate
Hutus by extreme Hutu militia and members of Rwanda's former
government and army.
Albright lays wreath at mass grave in Nianza
On Thursday, she condemned the recent upsurge of violence in
the country, which began when hundreds of thousands of Hutu
refugees returned home from the Congo, where they had fled,
fearing reprisals from the genocide.
Albright laid a wreath in Rwanda Thursday at a mass grave
with 1,700 victims of a 1994 raid on a school, where people
She then visited a U.N.-sponsored center that has helped more
than 280,000 refugees return to their homes during the past
The Tutsi refugees began arriving in Rwandan camps late last
year as they fled fighting at the start of the successful
rebellion waged by Kabila. He seized power in May of this
year, deposing dictator Mobutu Sese Seko.
U.S. offers millions to improve conditions
Albright said Friday that the United States was putting
together an aid package worth between $35 million and $40
million dollars for the Congo, formerly Zaire.
The funds, which still need congressional approval, would be
used to improve democratic institutions, infrastructure,
health care, sanitation and financial facilities, Albright
She also said U.S. Peace Corps volunteers would soon return
to the Congo, and that the U.S. plans to reopen its aid
office in the country.
Albright already had pledged $10 million to the Congo last
Tuesday, to be administered through a World Bank trust fund.
But Kabila on Wednesday scoffed at the offer, saying it was
Reuters contributed to this report.