Rwandan authorities have paraded five suspects in a deadly weekend attack who told journalists they were from the FDLR Hutu militia based in neighbouring DR Congo.
The attack, in which 14 civilians were killed, took place near the Volcanoes National Park, which is famous for its mountain gorilla sanctuary.
It is an area repeatedly targeted by Rwandan rebels operating from the Democratic Republic of 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 five rebels allegedly captured in an operation in which police said 19 “terrorists” were killed, were paraded in front of the media on Sunday night, answering direct questions from journalists.
They said their aim was — as long stated by the FDLR — to “overthrow the government” in comments whose veracity could not be independently confirmed.
“We came to kill soldiers but our commanders started killing civilians and ordered us to do the same,” said Emmanuel Hakizimana, 27, who said he joined the FDLR in 2018 in Uganda.
Another member of the group Theoneste Habumukiza said he was a student in Uganda when he went to the DRC and was “asked to join FDLR and to liberate Rwanda from tyranny.”
“After entering Rwanda and shooting some people, we faced fire from Rwandan soldiers and we tried to escape but we could not. So we surrendered and gave up our arms to the soldiers.”
Aside from the 14 killed, another 14 residents of the Musanze district, which borders DRC, are still in hospital.
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.
The last attack by rebels in this region happened in December and resulted in the deaths of two Rwandan soldiers.