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Sunday, 31 December, 2000, 19:57 GMT
Rwanda buries bus attack victims
Hutus training in Burundi
The Burundian Government blames Hutu rebels
By Chris Simpson in Kigali

Emotional funerals have taken place in Rwanda of some of the 21 victims of last Thursday's bus ambush in neighbouring Burundi.


The attack against innocent civilians, including foreigners, was completely unjustified

Rwandan Government
The attack, on the road to the Burundian capital, Bujumbura, has been blamed on Hutu rebels.

Senior Burundi Government officials escorted the lorry carrying the coffins of the seven Rwandan dead, before handing them over to weeping relatives waiting at Kigali's King Faisal Hospital.

Burundi map
Hundreds of Rwandans made their way to the cemetery in the Remera district of the capital to pay their last respects.

It was an interdenominational service with prayers and tributes from Protestant, Catholic and Muslim clerics.

The Rwandans killed on the road to Bujumbura - most of them in their late 20s or early 30s - were making what was seen as a routine journey south across the border.

'Dogs'

Amongst the victims was a British vounteer, 27-year-old Charlotte Wilson, who had been working as a science teacher in Rwanda and was killed along with her Burundian fiance.

Also killed was the young president of the Titanic Express bus company, travelling in one of his own buses.

Burundi map
Friends and relatives sketched out brief telling portraits of the dead.

Twenty-nine-year-old Julian, for example, was a Christian youth leader, who had been looking to pursue a doctorate.

There was fierce condemnation of those responsible for the attack, denounced by one mourner as "dogs".

Burundi's visiting Minister of Interior, Asension Twagi Ramungu, said the ambush had been a tragedy for Rwanda and Burundi and called for stronger international action against the Hutu rebels.

The ambush and its aftermath have brought a sombre end to the year in Kigali.

The latest tragedy carries painful echoes of the Rwandan genocide of 1994.

For many of those in mourning this will not be the first time that relatives have been killed in a brutal and arbitrary fashion.

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See also:

25 Aug 00 | Africa
Burundi's deadly deadlock
30 Sep 00 | Africa
Mandela plea to Burundi rebels
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