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EDITORIAL: A date etched in the annals of RPA’s history

On May 18, 1994, at the very height of the Genocide, the Rwanda Patriotic Army (RPA) that was fighting the Genocidal government army had its hands full and was spread thin on the ground against a much more superior and better-armed force.

By now the killings were almost complete as hillsides had been combed and emptied of all Tutsi. Many had sought refuge in church or school compounds with the false hope that the killers would not dare desecrate religious sites. How wrong they were.

 

Many were killed inside the churches and one notorious priest, Father Athanase Seromba of Nyange Parish in the former Kibuye Prefecture, demolished his church using a bulldozer bringing it crushing down on thousands who had taken refuge inside.

 

In 2006, Seromba was found guilty of Genocide and sentenced to a controversial 15-sentence, but karma had the last word. When he appealed, fate caught up with him and he received a life sentence.

 

So, on the night of May 18, 26 years ago, refugees in Kigali who had taken refuge at St Paul and Ste Famille risked the same fate as those of Nyange. They even had an equally blood thirsty priest by the name of Wenceslas Munyeshyaka, but unlike Seromba, he is peacefully serving his flock in France.

Days before the RPA had been buoyed by a successful operation behind enemy lines in Nyamirambo where it had rescued hundreds and herded them to safety. So it duplicated a similar operation, slipping between enemy positions to save another large group of refugees surrounded by hostile forces.

It would be another month and a half before Kigali fell, but as the successful rescue missions had shown, nothing would stand in the way of a charged up and motivated force. The genocidal forces were to later learn that the hard way.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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