March 5, 2010 | Grenade attack in Rwanda

On this day in 2010, two near-simultaneous grenade explosions injured 16 people in the Rwandan capital Kigali, one at a car-washing yard and another at a bus station.

You would have thought Rwanda has suffered enough violence but there is still terrorism to deal with.

KIGALI, RWANDA — I’d imagine that Rwanda has the notoriety of being known for one event and one event alone: the 1994 genocide of Tutsis by Hutus. In the wake of an airliner crash in which President Juvenal Habyarimana was killed a slaughter of ‘biblical’ proportions broke out as average Rwandans seemed to lose all sense of reason. The death totals range from 500,000 to over a million and the stories told by the survivors are heartrending.

Accounts of this tragedy of unspeakable size are legion and I have no intention of trying to summarise what transpired. My own link to the genocide is tenuous at best: Canadian General Romeo Dallaire, who was the Force Commander of UNAMIR, the UN peacekeeping force for Rwanda between 1993 and 1994, and who attempted to stop the killing, is, like me, a digital fellow at Concordia University’s Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (MIGS), although I have not had the honour of meeting this Canadian hero.

In the aftermath of the deaths a Tutsi, Paul Kagame, began to play a more important role in getting Rwanda back on its feet (despite his involvement in the fighting as head of the Rwandan Patriotic Front – RPF): he has been the country’s president since 2000. President Kagame’s rule has been controversial to say the least and Rwanda still struggles with what happened a quarter century ago. As The Economist wrote last year:

Twenty-five years after the genocide, Rwanda is still an enigma. Its recovery in economic, social and psychological terms is hotly debated. Almost every aspect of the past and present is still argued over. What exactly caused the genocide (which started after a plane carrying Rwanda’s president, Juvénal Habyarimana, was shot down by unknown assassins)? How many people died? Could outsiders, in particular the un, have halted it?

In the midst of all this collective angst are acts of violence that can be called terrorism. On this day in 2010 two near-simultaneous grenade explosions injured 16 people in the Rwandan capital Kigali: four people were wounded when a blast rocked a car-washing yard and another 12 were hurt at a bus station in an upmarket district. Other reports say two people died and 30 were injured.

The authors of the attacks are not known. The government initially blamed Hutu militias – an armed Hutu movement called the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) is active across the western border in the Democratic Republic of Congo and has in the past carried out attacks inside Rwanda – then changed its tune and said members of the RPF were responsible.

It does not really matter who was behind the incidents. No country should have to endure violence on a regular basis, let along on the scale that has infected Rwanda. There has to be a better way to register political or ideological differences.

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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