Rwanda’s police force said it has arrested six people suspected of planning to attack government officials, civilians and fuel-storage and transport facilities.
Since May 13, police detained five men and a woman on suspicion of belonging to an armed group based in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, police spokesman Superintendent Theos Badege said in an interview today in Kigali, the capital. He said the rebels are being funded by Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa, Rwanda’s former army chief, and ex-Defense Minister Emmanuel Habyarimana, both of whom are currently living in exile.
“They were planning to attack fuel tanks or fuel storage, and some key institutions like buildings, some foreign missions in Rwanda and other VIPs in Rwanda,” Badege said.
Rwanda claims Nyamwasa and former spy chief Patrick Karegeya have about 200 rebels in the eastern Congo, according to minutes of a meeting of the Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries in January. Nyamwasa formed an opposition political party with Karegeya and other exiled Rwandans in December. The two men were each sentenced in absentia to more than 20 years in prison by Rwanda’s Military Court on Jan. 14 for defamation and crimes against internal order.
Habyarimana, who served as defense minister from 2000 until 2002, is currently living in exile in Europe, the British Broadcasting Corp. reported in 2007. He didn’t immediately respond to an e-mailed request for comment.
Nyamwasa denied he had any links to the rebels.
“I do not have any connection with any rebel movement in DRC and do not intend to have any connection,” he said in an e-mailed response to questions. “Ideologically, I do not agree with rebels in DRC and cannot work with them.”
Nyamwasa, a former ally of Rwandan President Paul Kagame, was shot and wounded outside his home in South Africa a year ago. Rwanda’s government denied involvement in the attack. Kagame has asked the South African government to hand over Nyamwasa to the Rwandan authorities.
One of the accused presented to the media today in Kigali, Colonel Norbert Ndererimana, said he led an armed group in eastern Congo that ultimately sought to overthrow the government of Rwanda. The so-called King’s Army consisted of about 100 soldiers, he said. The fighters belong to a network of militant groups that includes the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda, or the FDLR, the police said in a statement. Some of the FDLR’s members were implicated in the Rwandan genocide in 1994 in which 800,000 people were slaughtered over a period of 100 days.
Surrounded by Rwandan police officers, Ndererimana said he was ordered to conduct terrorist activities by the group’s funders. “We were going to use grenades to attack big fuel trucks and places where people normally gather,” he said.
The King’s Army was funded in small amounts, the last payment being about $2,000 according to Ndererimana. He said he was supposed to meet representatives of their sponsors in Rwanda when he was arrested May 13, before another five suspects were detained.