March 16, 2020

MARCH 18, 1991: Day When Military Intelligence Began Training Youths for Genocide

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The training of the interahamwe youths continued being done in a joint operation by Rwandan and French military officers. Here in 1994, Rwanda — A group of Rwandan recruits carrying model rifles march down a road. — (Photo by Peter Turnley/CORBIS)

On March 18, 1991, the head of the intelligence service in Ruhengeri Prefecture, Munyangoga Eugene, sent a report to his director general in Kigali a report in which he suggested distributing weapons to the people of Ruhengeri.

This day will remain a dark cloud in Rwanda’s abysmal past. It is the day the insider government machinery put its wright behind the implementation of the genocide against the Tutsi in the months and years that followed.

Each week, the National Commission for the fight against Genocide (CNLG), since January, has been documenting significant facts and dates relating to the planning of the Genocide perpetrated against the Tutsi in 1994; below are some of the events that marked the period between March 15 and 22, 1991-1994.


On March 15, 1991, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs transmitted a telegram to the Ambassador of France to Rwanda, Georges Matres, informing him that France has set up a special unit DAMI PANDA to support the army of Rwandan government fighting against RPF Inkotanyi; he was also asked to inform President Habyarimana of this decision.

The telegram explained that “This unit of about thirty men will be devoted to the training of the Rwandan army units with which it will be placed”. And concluded: “We do not intend to officially announce the establishment of DAMI. You will tell President Habyarimana that we would like him to do the same.”

Members of this French special unit were sent to the military camps of Bigogwe, Gabiro and the town of Ruhengeri to train recruits there, while in Ruhengeri training was carried out in the buildings of the University of Nyakinama.

Soldiers from DAMI PANDA also trained military intelligence in the para-commandos of the CRAP (Search and Action Deep Commandos) unit of the Rwandan army. This unit carried out infiltrations in the localities in the hands of the RPF to collect the information which would allow the Rwandan army to carry out military operations there with a view to retaking these localities. The members of this unit were chosen from the Kanombe para commando battalion.

This battalion was commanded by Major Aloys Ntabakuze, who came from the Karago Commune, in Gisenyi Prefecture, and was trained by French military experts under the orders of Commander Grégoire De Saint Quentin. Members of the para commando battalion participated in the Genocide, especially in the city of Kigali.

They used the techniques learned by the French to kill the Tutsi. On May 8, 2012, Major Aloys Ntabakuze was sentenced to 35 years in prison by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda for the massacres committed by members of the para commando battalion he commanded. At first instance, Ntabakuze was sentenced on December 18, 2008 to life imprisonment.


On March 18, 1991, the head of the intelligence service in Ruhengeri Prefecture, Munyangoga Eugene, sent a report to his director general in Kigali a report in which he suggested distributing weapons to the people of Ruhengeri.

In this report, Munyangoga affirmed that the young people between 18 and 25 years old are robust and that they should receive military training, an operation which had to be coordinated by the local authorities: mayors, advisers and cell heads. According to the report, after their training, young people should return to their areas of origin, receive weapons but continue to put on civilian clothes.

Munyangoga also planned this operation in the communes close to the border between Rwanda and Uganda, that are Kinigi, Nkumba, Kidaho and Butaro, by specifying the sectors mainly concerned in the following way:

  • Kinigi Commune: Nyarugina, Bisate, Kanyamiheto, Nyabisinde, Kabwende, Kagano and Gasiza;
  • Nkumba Commune: Gatete, Musanzu, Rutambo;
  • Kidaho Commune: Gitaraga, Burambi, Cyanika, Butenga and Kagogo;
  • Commune Butaro: Rugendabase, Rutovu, Kandoyi, Butandi and Buhita.

For the first time, Munyangoga used the term “militia” to designate this youth, saying that it will be useful for the government and the army, which will not cost the state much at the moment. that these young people will not receive wages.

He asked that this youth be entrusted to the command of the Rwandan army which will use it in due course. He added that “the operation would fight against the Inkotanyi who used to infiltrate at night to rob and kill, which they will be reluctant to do if they learn of the presence of armed and militarily trained young people in the population”.

This report also affirms that this operation was to begin in Ruhengeri, and, after evaluation, continue in all the other prefectures of Rwanda, starting from those which are close to the borders of north and the East, i.e. Gisenyi, Byumba and Kibungo.

The document ends by suggesting that the bourgmestres should be mobilized for this operation, and collaborate with army commanders to quickly implement it.

This operation was indeed carried out because the Interahamwe and Impuzamugambi militias, full of hatred for the Tutsi, were created across the country, and were trained militarily to assist the soldiers and the gendarmes in the extermination of Tutsi everywhere country.


On March 22, 1994, Georges Ruggiu, A Belgian broadcaster on RTLM, warned that “the Belgians wanted to impose an RPF government of bandits and killers on Rwanda, and that the Belgian ambassador had prepared a coup”.

This kind of lies was broadcasted on RTLM and Radio Rwanda, as part of the planning of the Genocide, to provoke the departure of the Belgian contingent, and thus deprive UNAMIR of the Belgian soldiers who were among the best armed.

Habyarimana’s government used these kinds of tricks to be able to carry out the Genocide against the Tutsi without any witnesses. The Belgian government had started to denounce the massacres carried out by the Habyarimana regime and the role of president Habyarimana who never wanted the implementation of the arusha peace agreements.

Ruggiu called on the Belgians to wake up and return to their country, otherwise they would be faced with a “merciless” war and “limitless hatred”.


UNAMIR noted that in March 1994, large quantities of ammunition had been smuggled from the armories of the Kanombe military camp and distributed without the knowledge of UNAMIR to the various military camps in the interior of the country, especially that of Gitarama. These arms distributions were aimed at preparing for war, fight against the Arusha peace agreements and distributing the weapons that will be used during the Genocide.

Belgian adjudant Benoit DAUBIE, who was responsible for the maintenance of weapons at the Kanombe military camp, testified before the Belgian military auditor: “I had access to all the ammunition stores in Kanombe before the attack. (…) A large part of the deposit had been emptied of its content. The quantities of ammunition extracted were very large. I take as an example the distribution of 1000 mortar shells of 120 mm on Gitarama. About 20% of the ammunition remained in the depot. It was about a month before the Habyarimana plane bombing and it took a whole week for transportation. A FAR lieutenant told me that it was in preparation for an RPF attack, but I personally believe that this action was done to escape the control of UN observers. I know that the figures provided by the FAR headquarters to the United Nations were false because they did not take into account what had been distributed in mass. The only thing that mattered was the almost empty store. Many movements of ammunition were made during the night revealed to me German military cooperation. “

The purpose of hiding weapons from UNAMIR was to prevent them from controlling their use, so that the Rwandan army could use them for massacres that could not be prevented by UNAMIR, whose mandate required it to focus mainly on the city of Kigali. 


Habyarimana planned the Genocide in collaboration with the army, leaders of the MRND and CDR, the media and other high institutions in the country, especially the intelligence services.

To plan the Genocide, Habyarimana used the institutions to incite the population to hate UNAMIR, especially the Belgian contingent, in order to carry out the Genocide in the greatest silence.

Habyarimana used all the tricks to propagate hatred of the Tutsi, to train the population militarily, to distribute weapons and to oppose the implementation of the Arusha peace agreements.

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