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February 2, 2024 French

Les forces du FPR ont pris ce matin possession de la capitale Kigali et de la ville de Butare

Card Number 33634

Bilalian, Daniel
Rabine, Giles
Boisserie, Philippe
Duquesne, BenoƮt
4 juillet 1994
Time zone
Journal de 13 heures
Les forces du FPR ont pris ce matin possession de la capitale Kigali et de la ville de Butare
La décision a été prise de s'opposer à l'avancée des troupes du FPR à Gikongoro. C'est un tournant dans l'opération Turquoise.
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- In Rwanda, the forces of the Patriotic Front took possession this morning of the capital Kigali and the town of Butare where the French had been attacked for the first time yesterday [July 3] afternoon by soldiers of the RPF on the occasion of the evacuation of an orphanage.
- Giles Rabine: "We have just toured the city with the victors, with the FPR forces, and we were able to see that they had taken most of the city center. There is still sporadic fighting in below the hills which overlook the city but truly these are the last battles. France was very moved by the three orphanages in Kigali. The last one that remained was that of Marc Vaiter. All the orphans of Marc Vaiter and Vaiter himself is safe. They were saved in the early hours of the morning by the RPF forces. All last night we witnessed very violent artillery exchanges. We heard very large troop movements, much more important than usual. And suddenly at 6:30 a.m., 7 a.m. this morning, there was silence: no more cannons, no more machine gun fire and no more shootings. We were in the city for the first time around 9 a.m. When we returned to the city center, we first noticed that there was no longer any government control, that the city was absolutely deserted. At the crossroads where yesterday [July 3] a Russian peacekeeper was injured, RPF soldiers stood on the sidewalks and a little further up this avenue, a squad was preparing to advance; the men were arranged in columns on the sides, on either side of the avenue. And during the few minutes that the RPF allowed us to stay there, we were able to witness an arrest, probably of a mercenary who had thrown away his weapon before being arrested. The first consequence of this capture of the city is that the FPR rebels, from now on, will have to be called 'the ex-FPR rebels' because they hold most of the country and today they hold the capital and second city of the country, Butare. In other words, the ex-governments are left with nothing more than a skin, that is to say just the area around Gisenyi where the French are trying to resupply and save as many refugees as possible. They are also trying to reach this region. This is all that remains of the former governmental Rwanda. The Tutsi troops of the Rwandan Patriotic Front took most of the country today at midday".
- Philippe Boisserie: "Butare therefore fell today. A capture of the town which was very rapid since a week ago the RPF soldiers tended to advance towards the east of the country. And in fact they changed their objective: they therefore left for Butare, which therefore fell very quickly. A very important capture since it is the second city in the country. And above all it is an emblematic city for the Tutsi since it is the former capital of the Tutsi kingdom. Once Butare has fallen, the French estimate that the RPF soldiers could now advance on Kibuye. And to do this, they must actually cross an area which is populated by tens of thousands of civilian refugees. So how can we protect them today? That's the whole question for the French soldiers whose mission it is. Will they have to intervene in front of the advance of the RPF or will they have to somehow manage this advance of the RPF soldiers? It is therefore a delicate military decision. And above all it is a very political decision".
- Benoît Duquesne: "We have just learned that the decision was taken in Paris to oppose the advance of FPR troops here in Gikongoro. In other words, it is a turning point in Operation Turquoise. Until now the instructions were to avoid contact with the RPF troops and not to seek confrontation. There, the instructions from Paris changed: the French will maintain this position in Gikongoro to protect the refugee camp. And they will therefore be led to directly oppose the RPF troops. Colonel Thibaut's statements were very clear: "We will hold the position, we will not retreat". There are around 150 French soldiers here in Gikongoro. Reinforcements, a hundred, will arrive this afternoon. And to this will be added two companies of the Legion which are on the edge of the forest about thirty kilometers away. Opposite you should know that the RPF would have around 2,000 men". - The fighting in the capital Kigali had lasted for two months. In recent days they have been violent, with government forces resisting in some neighborhoods. The city was practically cut off from the outside world and our special correspondents were able to film the distress of civilians, women and children, injured in this fighting.
- They were injured three days ago but it was only today that the English surgeon from Doctors Without Borders was able to take care of them. Children, babies, often orphans, already refugees and now mutilated, with distress and all the horror of a war in their eyes which, as always, hits the weakest. The MSF surgeon: "They evacuated yesterday [July 3] from the ICRC hospital to here because they had too many. I was there for three days and we received at least 1,000 patients. From From a medical point of view, we have the dressings for maybe two days".
- Bandages and medicines which will start to run out at a time when the medical and health situation has never been so bad. Due to the fighting, the Red Cross hospital, located in the city center, is often under fire from heavy weapons and evacuations of the wounded to other locations are often slowed down or even stopped.
- She was shot in the head a few minutes ago. Without care, she awaits death alongside those who, injured last night, are treated without anesthesia. And yet they were lucky: 49 of their number, refugees in the same parish, were executed by Hutu militiamen a few meters from here.
- It is in this dramatic context that the Rwandan Patriotic Front requested the evacuation of the Red Cross hospital in the city center. A hospital which, with its 900 wounded, its dying and especially with its Red Cross surgeons and nurses, hampered the FPR in its offensives against government soldiers. This morning, when Kigali fell, the hospital was still full of new wounded.
- The President of the Republic, Mr. Mitterrand, was welcomed this morning in Cape Town by President Mandela.
The 13 o'clock news of France 2 of July 4, 1994 is visible in its entirety here: https://www.ina.fr/ina-eclaire-actu/video/cab05083218/f2-le-journal-13h-emission-du-4-juillet-1994