Thursday, January 5, 2012

FDLR behind Tuesday's Grenade Attack in Kigali?

On Tuesday, 4 January, grenade attacks rocked Remera, Kigali at approximately 640pm in the evening. Two died, at least 18 people required hospitalisation to treat their wounds. Graham Holliday of Reuters tweeted that he saw people missing limbs when he visited the hospital (his report here), but none of that news has been reported by the Rwanda authorities. Follow him at @noodlepie. A doctor treating some of the victims estimated at least 32 injury cases.

The statement of the Rwandan police firmly states that those individuals behind the blast will be brought to book. Grenade attacks were common in the run up to the 2010 presidential elections. These blasts are the first we've heard of in eighteen months (the last being in July 2010, in western Rwanda, not in Kigali).

According to the BBC's report on the blasts, Rwandan security forces believe the Kivu-based FDLR rebel group is responsible for the attacks.

Yet, the evidence from the ground does not directly point to the FDLR as security forces claim. The target of vegetable sellers in Remera, on the opposite side of Kigali from the Presidential Palace, and the homes of senior members of the government in Kivoyu, does not match up. True, Remera is not far from the Ministry of Justice and the Parliament, but the target was ordinary Rwandans at they shopped for their evening's dinner on the way home from work, not government installations. Surely the FDLR leadership would target a more impactful location for the blasts if he had the intention of destabilising the government? As Kigaliwire reported, 'Nyabisindu [in Remera sector] is like many non-descript, dirt track areas of Kigali. The kind of place where local folk sell fruit and vegetables in front of shops and houses and workers sit outside for a Primus or a Fanta in the evening'.

If is is the FDLR, why did Rwandan security forces round up vegetable sellers and beat them for information on who planted the blasts. If the government knows it is FDLR, then why target sellers? Perhaps because it thinks that vegetable sellers in Remera are collaborating with the FDLR?

That makes little sense. If Rwanda is as peaceful and secure as the government claims, how could FDLR operatives make it all the way to Kigali, while winning over the hearts and minds of ordinary Rwandans selling their wares at market.

I don't know who is behind Tuesday's grenade attacks. I hope that a blind insistence on the culpability of the FDLR does not blind analysts and security forces to the possibility of other actors carrying out the deed. Whoever is behind the blasts, the effect at the local level is likely the same: striking fear into residents of Kigali.


  1. "attacks"? One I think you will find.
    Not reported by Rwandan authorities? Err no see the Rwanda Police Twitter account.
    Otherwise interesting to see you think you know the minds of the FDLR! But you do not know much it seems. In the centre of town there are soldiers and CCTV. People now queue for buses. The cowardly attacker will now act in the more remote areas of the capital to avoid detection.
    The RNC have sought to make political capital out of the attack. Who might be responsible? Well people presumably who want to kill innocent civilians and take Rwanda backwards. RNC? FDLR? Rusesabagina? I don't know but we know that destabilising is their agenda. You take your pick.
    As for the the alleged beating of local people, where is the link for that report?

  2. The police is not only beating local people. They also are repulsing victims from hospitals without letting them get medical care they crucially need simply because authorities do not want the truth about the exact number of victims be known....


  3. Reuters reporter said he went to the hospital and Reuters filmed there and posted it. No sign of anyone being beaten in that report or film and or of anyone being refused treatment.

  4. The very first time ever that there were grenade attacks in Rwanda, it was in the early 90's. This was a couple of years after the RPF rebels attacked the country. In my opinion, the grenade attacks back then were by RPF agents who wanted to portray the image that Habyarimana could not keep his balkanized portion of the country safe. It is ironic that now with the RPF in power, the new wave of grenade attacks may be trying to send the same message about the RPF government. Or may be it is the RPF that is doing this as an excuse to continue cracking down on opposition politicians, journalists and human rights activists.

    At the end of the day, it is very sad that innocent civilians are caught in a political power struggle.

  5. "If Rwanda is as peaceful and secure as the government claims, how could FDLR operatives make it all the way to Kigali,"

    Are you thinking clearly? Did the UK govt stop the IRA bombing campaign in 1970-90s? It is very hard. The FDLR has a record of killing civilians in the DRC. Why should they be any different in Rwanda?

  6. I think it would be downright naive to assume that people within the government cannot pull a rotten trick like this; crowd manipulation 101: use fear
    And it is especially the "not knowing" who's behind the attacks and who/what was the actual target that keeps the mass in check, and has the added bonus in that the population turns to the government for answers and protection, not unlike a frightened child running to a parent.
    The people will believe what they are told and do as asked, so long as they are terrified and unsure as to when the next blast will hit (for they know it's only a matter of time!)
    How many average "Kigalois" out there asking for evidences, independent investigations and fair hearings of those who may be presented as culprits, you tell me, or rather, what are the chances that an average Rwandan would care to put their freedom or very lives on the line like that?