KIGALI, Rwanda -- Is a new round of massacres taking place in Rwanda, this time directed against the country's Hutu majority?
The almost 5,000 United Nations troops spread out on the ground throughout Rwanda, conducting daily patrols, concluded this week that they cannot document a single instance of a recent massacre that would support the claims.
Rwanda's new Tutsi-led government strenuously denies any campaign of reprisal killings. It has opened its territory for U.N. inspection and has blasted the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and other agencies as "irresponsible" for falling for charges from Hutus in neighboring countries.
Rwanda's new military leader, Maj. Gen. Paul Kagame, told journalists in Kigali that the accounts of alleged reprisals, circulated by word of mouth and the media, hurt chances of convincing Hutus that it is safe to come home and start rebuilding the war-ravaged country.
At a U.N. outpost in southern Rwanda, Canadian officers monitoring the area don't hide their disgust with what they consider a successful propaganda campaign being waged by Hutus outside Rwanda.
"There's a lot of disinformation on the other side in the camps with regard to what's going on here," said Canadian Maj. Gary Dawson, who commands international troops patrolling the southeast corner of the country, bordering Burundi and Tanzania.
After a disputed UNHCR report issued in Geneva two weeks ago said there was evidence of an alleged pattern of new reprisal killings in Rwanda, Mr. Dawson said he was told to visit five sites where new massacres had reportedly occurred. In every case, he said, the bodies he found dated from before the Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front took control of the country in July, or massacres carried out by the forces of the former Hutu-led government.
Meanwhile, the U.N. Security Council yesterday blamed Hutu politicians, soldiers and militiamen for preventing tens of thousands of Rwandans from leaving refugee camps in Zaire and returning home.