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UN: Attacks on Hutus in 1990s could be genocide

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[August 27, 2010]  JOHANNESBURG (AP) -- A leaked U.N. draft report says the Rwandan army and its Congolese rebel allies committed massacres in Congo in the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide that could also be classified as genocide, using hoes and axes to kill ethnic Hutus and burning others alive.

The report is a major embarrassment to Rwanda's President Paul Kagame, whose government has been credited with ending the 1994 slaughter in Rwanda during which more than half a million ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were brutally slain.

The French newspaper Le Monde, which first reported the leaked U.N. draft, said Kagame threatened to withdraw troops from the U.N.-African peacekeeping mission in Darfur if the genocide allegation was published. It was not immediately possible to get comment Friday from Rwanda's government.

In Geneva, U.N. human rights spokesman Rupert Colville said Friday he was disappointed that the draft was leaked. He said changes were still being finalized, but declined to say if they dealt with context or style. Colville refused to say if any alterations regarding the usage of the word "genocide" were being considered.

About 1 million Hutus including perpetrators of Rwanda's 1994 genocide fled to neighboring Congo in the aftermath of the slaughter. Rwandan troops invaded and thousands were killed in U.N. refugee camps, the report said.

"The extensive use of non-firearms, particularly hammers, and the systematic massacres of survivors after camps were taken prove that the number of deaths cannot be put down to the margins of war," the leaked report says.

The draft from the High Commissioner for Human Rights states that the systematic and widespread attacks "could be classified as crimes of genocide" by a competent court, according to Le Monde.

The Rwandan government says their forces were hunting down perpetrators of the 1994 genocide. However, the leaked draft report said most of the Hutu victims in Congo were women and children, along with the sick and the elderly.

The 546-page report, which should be published next week, covers Rwanda's 1996 invasion of Congo, then called Zaire, and a second invasion two years later that exploded into a regional war involving eight countries.

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Nursing Homes

The report says that while Rwanda has permitted large numbers of Hutus to return home, that "does not rule out the intention of destroying part of an ethnic group as such and thus committing a crime of genocide."

Rwanda's 1994 genocide was sparked when a plane carrying then-President Juvenal Habyarimana was shot down as it approached Kigali, Rwanda's capital. The slaughter ended when Kagame -- who is now Rwanda's president -- led a group of Tutsi rebels to overthrow the Hutu government.

Kagame has tried to downplay the role of ethnicity in post-genocide Rwanda, and people in the country rarely refer to themselves as Hutu or Tutsi and can face charges for speaking publicly about ethnicity.

[Associated Press; By MICHELLE FAUL]

Associated Press writer Bradley S. Klapper in Geneva contributed to this report.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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