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Congo arrests Rwandan genocide suspect

Authorities in Democratic Republic of Congo have arrested a man accused of planning the massacre of at least 2,000 Rwandan Tutsis during the 1994 genocide, a government official said on Wednesday.

world Updated: Aug 12, 2009 21:08 IST

Authorities in Democratic Republic of Congo have arrested a man accused of planning the massacre of at least 2,000 Rwandan Tutsis during the 1994 genocide, a government official said on Wednesday.

Gregoire Ndahimana was arrested by Congolese soldiers on Sunday during UN-backed operations to stamp out Hutu rebel group the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) in violence ravaged eastern border province North Kivu.

"He was discovered by our units operating in North Kivu ... He was hiding among the FDLR," Congolese Information Minister Lambert Mende said.

Ndahimana was a local administrator in the Rwandan town of Kivumu during Rwanda's genocide, in which around 800,000 Rwandan Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed during 100 days in 1994.

According to his indictment by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), he is responsible for the deaths of at least 2,000 Tutsis, most of whom were killed when Hutus bulldozed the church where they were being held.

By July 1994, ICTR prosecutors believe almost all of Kivumu's 6,000 Tutsi residents had been killed.

The tribunal, based in the Tanzanian city of Arusha, was seeking Ndahimana's arrest for genocide or complicity in genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, and crimes against humanity for extermination.

Twelve other ICTR indictees remain at large.

"(Ndahimana) is now in the hands of the military's operational authorities awaiting his transfer to Arusha," Mende said.

Most of the former Rwandan military and Interahamwe militia members responsible for the genocide fled the country after Tutsi rebels led by Rwanda's current president, Paul Kagame, swept through the central African nation ending the killing.

Their presence in eastern Congo, Rwanda's giant western neighbour, served as a pretext for two Rwandan interventions, which sparked a 1998-2003 war and humanitarian catastrophe that has claimed 5.4 million lives over the past 10 years.

Earlier this year, the Congolese army, with the backing of the world's largest UN peacekeeping mission, launched military operations against the FDLR, whose ranks include some of the orchestrators of the genocide.

During her visit to Congo, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday called upon the Congolese government and the United Nations to better protect civilians in the east, who have been targeted for reprisal attacks by rebels.