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The BBC's Chris Simpson
"Hutu rebels have a strong presence in this area"
 real 56k

Saturday, 30 December, 2000, 16:23 GMT
Tight security after Burundi massacre
Charlotte Wilson
Charlotte Wilson: "An exceptional volunteer"
The Burundi Government has posted troops on the country's main road to Rwanda after the murder of 20 bus passengers, including a British volunteer teacher.

Following Thursday's massacre by rebel gunmen, aid organisations have also said they are reviewing their security guidelines.

Those working in Burundi are reported to have scaled down their activities outside the capital.


Charlotte was an exceptional volunteer - very bright, caring and committed

VSO's Penny Lawrence
Charlotte Wilson, 27, was "executed" along with fellow passengers when the bus she was travelling on was ambushed near Kilima, 18 miles north west of the Burundian capital Bujumbura.

She had been working with the Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) as a science teacher at a secondary school in neighbouring Rwanda since September 1999.

VSO's director of overseas operations, Penny Lawrence, said she did not know why Ms Wilson had been travelling on the road.

"It is a renowned road for being dangerous and unsafe, our travel advice is not to use it," she said.

She added that the VSO would now review the security guidelines it issues to volunteers and make sure they know how important it is to follow them.

'Dangerous'

The Burundi Government has blamed Hutu rebels for the killings, which mostly involved victims from Rwanda and Burundi.

The authorities in both countries are trying to get the bodies of the dead sent back to their families.

A UK Foreign Office spokesman condemned the attack and reiterated its advice that British nationals should not travel to Burundi.

Ms Lawrence said Ms Wilson's colleagues and friends were devastated by her death.

"VSO is in touch with Charlotte's family and our thoughts are with them at this time," she said.

Escape

"Charlotte was an exceptional volunteer - very bright, caring and committed to rebuilding Rwanda's education system.

"Her students responded to her infectious enthusiasm for her subject, but her talent was also recognised at the highest level."

She added that she hoped the tragedy would not put people off becoming volunteers.

"I have been associated with the VSO for 17 years and I have never known any volunteer killed through terrorism before this," she said.

Burundi map
"Charlotte wasn't in the country where she was a volunteer. The security situation in Rwanda has improved all the time we have been operating there."

Normal traffic has continued between Burundi and Rwanda, but two of the main bus companies have temporarily suspended their services.

The Burundian authorities say at least 20 people were killed, including several women and children, and another 20 were injured.

A Rwandan woman, who escaped the massacre, said the bus overturned before being surrounded by a gang of armed men.

The woman said: "We were asked to lie down on the concrete road. When they voiced their intention to kill us, I began begging them to spare my life and my child's."

Ms Wilson is the latest in a line of Britons to lose their life because of conflict between Hutus and Tutsis in east Africa.

Four Britons were among eight tourists who were murdered with machetes and hammers, shot and raped by Rwandan Hutu rebels in Uganda's Impenetrable Forest in March 1999.

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