Rebel commander captured in northern Rwanda

Kigali- Rwanda (PANA) -- Rwanda said its army Sunday captured a senior rebel commander in the country's northern Ruhengeri Province.
James Kabarebe, Rwanda's Deputy Army Chief of Staff, told PANA that the capture of Colonel Peter Habimana, code-named Bemera and who claims to be ALIR I (the Army for the Liberation of Rwanda) commander based in north-eastern Congo, is a serious blow to the armed insurgency.
"The capture of Colonel Habimana spells a final end to the insurgency," said Kabarebe.
He said that some of the ALIR commanders have been killed or captured, and more than 1,000 of their men killed, whereas more than 700 others were captured or handed themselves over to security forces.
Rwandan army spokesman Jean Bosco Kazura said that Habimana was captured Sunday afternoon in Mutobo district, former Mukingo commune, in northern Ruhenegeri province.
"Our forces have been following him since Thursday, after they had captured the head of ALIR's military intelligence and a number of other senior officers," Kazura told PANA.
During Thursday's fighting, the Rwandan army killed 16 rebels, and captured 34 others.
Speaking on state-run Radio Rwanda Sunday night, Habimana said he had come from a base in Masisi region in north-eastern Congo to inspect troops he sent to the battlefield two months ago.
He said he had entered Rwanda through the Virunga Mountain forests and infiltrated this part of Ruhengeri.
ALIR has two wings: the ALIR I operating from bases in north-eastern Congo and ALIR II operating in the areas of Katanga and Kasai, and which is reportedly integrated into the DR Congo's armed forces.
Kabarebe said that the Rwandan army was on full alert and would counter any attempt by the rebels to launch another attack.
ALIR is made up of soldiers of the former government army and members of the extremist Hutu militia "Interahamwe" ("those who attack together") responsible of the 1994 genocide which claimed the lives of more than 800,000 Tutsis and Hutus from the opposition.
They crossed to the DR Congo following their defeat by the then Tutsi rebels of the Rwandese Patriotic Front.
They attempted to launch an armed rebellion in 1997 and 1998 before being defeated and driven back into the DRC.
Rwanda, which has been backing the rebels of the Rally for the Congolese Democracy fighting to topple the Kinshasa government, vows to remain in the DR Congo as long as its security is threatened.
The UN, however, said in a recent report that Rwanda is in the DRC to loot that country's natural resources.

16 july 2001 09:50:00

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