Rwandans mark eighth anniversary of genocide

Monday, April 8, 2002

NYAKIBANDA, Rwanda -- A few days after Rwanda's 1994 genocide began, Immaculee Mpunga and her three children saved themselves by hiding among the bodies of people who had been hacked to death with machetes in a field outside this small village.

On the ground, they smeared themselves with blood from the bodies and pretended to be dead to fool the killers who were working their way through the countryside outside Nyakibanda, about 100 miles from the capital, Kigali.

Mpunga told her story to hundreds of people who gathered Sunday on a muddy field outside Nyakibanda's Roman Catholic church to mark the eighth anniversary of Rwanda's genocide by reburying the remains of some 3,000 people killed in and around the church during the first two weeks of the slaughter.

Hutu soldiers and members of the Hutu Interahamwe militia leading the slaughter "used machetes to cut the necks and ankles of victims to immobilize them and let them bleed to death," said the 40-year-old woman.

An estimated 500,000 minority Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus were killed during 100-day genocide triggered when a plane carrying Hutu President Juvenal Habyarimana was shot down on April 6, 1994.

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