Police say security forces have captured some of the attackers who attacked three sectors in Musanze district, northwestern Rwanda. They attacked Nyanze, Kinigi and Musanze sectors.
Some were captured during military operations since Friday night following the attack, while others were captured by locals. Video has been circulating in which locals found one of the men in a market. He can be seen being dragged by villagers some shouting “hold him tight, he can escape”.
Police spokesman CP John Bosco Kabera released a statement Sunday evening saying 19 attackers had been killed. Five were in custody.
“Those captured will give us the details we need about the group and their activities,” he said in interviews, but also confirmed that they came from Virunga national park shared with DR Congo and Uganda.
This park is home to the rare and prized mountain gorillas, which have turned out to be Rwanda’s major tourist attraction.
The brutality the attackers used to attack civilians armed with crude traditional weapons shows they were out to cause as much damage as possible, added CP Butera.
“They used heavy stones to finish off some of the victims,” according to the police spokesman, and the dead have reached 14 including the 8 announced yesterday.
The number of injured has not been updated.
The identity of the attackers has been subject speculation on Facebook since Saturday. Initial reports pointed to FDLR militia group operating in DR Congo’s side of Virunga park where they have had posts for several years.
However, exiled politician with known sympathy for the FDLR said in Facebook posts that it was not the FDLR which carried out the gruesome attack. Some said it could be the work of Rwandan security forces trying to confuse the world of a threat that is not there.
Other Facebook accounts known to be for members of the Rwanda National Congress (RNC) of exile Gen Kayumba Nyamwasa claimed to know the attackers. They went as far as naming the commander of the attack as “commander Perez”.
The captured assailants were shown to media on late Sunday.
RNC has a military wing called “P5” operating from DRC’s South Kivu province, way down away from Virunga region.
The Friday attack came just a day after 25 alleged members of Gen Nyamwasa’s rebel force appeared in a military court in Kigali Rwanda. They included an injured Major who retired from the Rwanda Defense Forces (RDF).
There have also been speculation on Facebook, a platform highly used by Rwandan exiles to publish their propaganda, that missing singer-turned Ben Rutabana may be the commander of the Musanze attack.
What is clear however is that questions will continue to be raised as to how the group managed to enter into Musanze, and specifically Kinigi sector. It is Rwanda’s tourism spot, with several high-end hotels in the area – meaning there were obviously tourists in the region. The region is also heavily protected for obvious reasons.
The Rwanda Development Board (RDB), the government agency handling the country’s tourism, said in a statement on Saturday evening that operations had not been disrupted at all. It also said all tourists are accounted for.
Meanwhile, the victims were buried today afternoon in a single grave at a ceremony attended by local and provincial officials.
The day was also marked by meetings of officials with locals where testimonies of survivors were told. The locals urged people to stay calm, go back to their homes – as security forces clear out the last remaining remnants.