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Wednesday, March 3, 1999 Published at 16:17 GMT

World: Africa

The tourists as targets

The UK foreign office website now advises against travel to the forest region

By Diplomatic Correspondent James Robbins

It is becoming clear that the eight tourists killed at the hands of Hutu rebels in south western Uganda were targeted because of their nationality.

James Robbins: British troops will join the FBI and the Ugandan authorities in hunting the murderers
Notes left on their bodies indicated that the kidnappers singled out their victims because they were either British or American.

The information has caused alarm amongst British and American officials, but representatives at the UK Foreign Office have been keen to point out that there is nothing unique about British policy in the region.

They say it keeps in step with accepted European Union policy towards a region with a recent violent history.

At the height of the Rwandan genocide five years ago Hutu extremists succeeded in killing around half a million. But they still lost control to the Tutsis who now rule there.

Colonial ties

The US and UK governments give their support to the new regime, but so does much of the rest of the world.

BBC Diplomatic Correspondent James Robbins: "Officials cannot confirm if any warnings were given"
And it was a UN tribunal that ulimately tried and convicted the former Hutu prime minister who led the genocide.

But the Hutus do have some historic colonial links with the French.

Many of the leaders of the Hutu rebels have set up base in exile in France and Belgium - the region's old colonial powers - from where they are believed to have been raising funds for the Interahamwe.

That probably explains why their nationals were spared.

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