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Saturday, 30 December, 2000, 11:57 GMT
Briton killed in Burundi massacre
Hutus training in Burundi
The Burundian Government blames Hutu rebels
A British voluntary worker was among 20 people killed by rebel gunmen in central Africa.

Charlotte Wilson, 27, was "executed" on Thursday 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.

Charlotte Wilson
Charlotte Wilson: "An exceptional volunteer"
The Burundian Government blamed Hutu rebels for the killings, which mostly involved victims from Rwanda and Burundi.

A UK Foreign Office spokesman said: "We condemn this rebel attack on innocent volunteers."

It has also reiterated its advice that British nationals should not travel to Burundi.

Ms Wilson was one of 56 VSO volunteers working in Rwanda and was due to finish in June 2001.

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

Penny Lawrence, VSO
VSO's director of overseas operations, Penny Lawrence, said Ms Wilson's colleagues and friends were devastated by the news.

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

"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."

Ms Lawrence said the VSO's travel guidelines were the same as those issued by the Home Office and she did not know why Ms Wilson had been travelling on the road near Kilima.

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

She said the VSO would now review the security guidelines it issues to volunteers and make sure they know how important they are.

Survivors saw shooting

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.

"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."

Ms Wilson was killed as she travelled from the Rwandan capital Kigali along with 28 other passengers.

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

Two cars travelling behind the bus were also attacked but it was not clear how many people died.

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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See also:

29 Dec 00 | Africa
Burundi ambush leaves 20 dead
25 Aug 00 | Africa
Burundi's deadly deadlock
30 Sep 00 | Africa
Mandela plea to Burundi rebels
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