It is almost impossible to understand the crime of genocide committed against Hutu people without going back to the history of Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and of Burundi. However, for brevity, the focus here is on a significant period starting from October 1996 to May 1997 in which hundreds of thousands of Rwandan, Congolese and Burundian Hutu men, women and children were indiscriminately massacred in their villages and refugee camps then hunted down while fleeing across the vast territory of Democratic Republic of Congo (Leaning, et al., 1996).
October 1996, Tutsi troops of the Rwanda-backed Alliance des Forces Démocratiques pour la Libération du Congo-Zaïre (AFDL) attacked refugee camps in Eastern DRC, home to 527,000 and 718,000 Hutu refugees in South-Kivu and North-Kivu respectively. Elements of the AFDL and, more so, of the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA) systematically shelled numerous camps and committed massacres with light weapons. These early attacks cost the lives of 6,800-8,000 refugees, and forced the repatriation of 500,000 - 700,000 refugees back to Rwanda.
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