Rwandan security forces killed 19 “terrorists” blamed for a weekend attack that left 14 dead near the Volcanoes National Park, famous for its mountain gorilla sanctuary, police said Sunday.
“The security forces were able to follow these terrorists, to kill 19 of them and arrest five,” police said in a statement, following the attack overnight Friday in northern Rwanda.
“Among those that were murdered include ordinary residents who were found in their homes and attacked with knives, machetes and stones,” it added.
Police spokesperson John Bosco Kabera told AFP that “investigations are ongoing to find anyone else who was part of this attack”.
Tourism officials insisted Saturday that all visitors to the park were safe after the attack in Musanze district, near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The death toll from the attack was initially set at eight.
The area has repeatedly been targeted by Rwandan rebels operating from the DR Congo.
One such group is the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), created by Rwandan Hutu refugees in eastern DRC after the 1994 genocide of Tutsis by majority Hutus in Rwanda.
The group was set up in 2000 to oppose Rwanda’s post-genocide leader, Paul Kagame.
The Congolese army announced last month it had shot dead FDLR commander Sylvestre Mudacumura who was wanted by the International Criminal Court on war crime charges.
Neighbouring Rwanda welcomed the news, saying it proved DRC President Felix Tshisekedi’s commitment to fighting “negative forces”.
“With his genocide group, the FDLR, he was destabilising DRC, killing Congolese and Rwandans,” Rwanda’s state minister for regional affairs Olivier Nduhungirehe told AFP at the time.
The last attack by rebels in this region happened in December and resulted in the deaths of two Rwandan soldiers.
The attack was blamed on FDLR fighters.
Eastern DRC has been a theatre of ethnic violence for 20 years, fuelled in part by the desire to control valuable mineral resources and farmland.