Raiders with assault rifles and grenades killed 31 people at a Rwandan refugee camp and on a Zairian island in Lake Kivu, a U.N. agency said Wednesday.
Fifty-one people were wounded in the attacks, 10 seriously. Many were women and children housed in the Birava camp on the western shore of the lake, which separates Rwanda and Zaire.
The area has been the scene of numerous cross-border attacks, some ascribed to bandits, others to former Rwandan soldiers and militiamen in exile in Zaire.
U.N. officials were unsure whether the attacks Tuesday night were conducted by Rwandan Tutsis in retaliation for raids into Rwanda by extremist Hutus, many housed in Zairian refugee camps.
“We’re stumped,” said Peter Kessler, spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. “It’s really unclear who the perpetrators were or what the motive was.”
But there is a great deal of anger and resentment within Rwanda over what Tutsi survivors of last year’s genocide see as favored treatment of Rwandan Hutu refugees.
The new, Tutsi-led government in Kigali has halted U.N. food shipments to some 1 million Rwandan refugees in dozens of camps near Bukavu and Goma, Zaire.
And thousands of Rwandans demonstrated Tuesday outside the headquarters of the U.N. mission in Kigali, demanding that it leave the Central African nation.