20 wounded in Kigali grenade attack

A grenade exploded at a small, dirt road intersection in Nyabisindu, Gasabo district, near Amahoro Stadium in Kigali tonight. The shaky image above shows the cordoned off area where the grenade exploded. As I blog, twenty people are confirmed wounded. I saw several victims at nearby Kibagabaga hospital who had lost limbs.

I filed a quick report for Reuters over phone and via SMS after visiting the scene of the attack, speaking to eyewitnesses, the police spokesman and then visiting the hospital,

A grenade attack wounded 20 people near an open-air fruit and vegetable market in Rwanda’s capital Kigali, police said on Tuesday.

A Reuters witness said some of the victims lost their legs and arms when the grenade exploded as night fell in the Gasabo district of the capital.

“A grenade blast injured around 20 people. We think there was only one grenade,” Police Spokesman Theos Badege told Reuters at the scene of the blast. link for full report

Nyabisindu is like many non-descript, dirt track areas of Kigali. The kind of place where local folk sell fruit and vegetables in front of shops and houses and workers sit outside for a Primus or a Fanta in the evening.

There have been more than ten grenade attacks in Kigali in nearly two years – see the map below. There have been arrests, a number of people have admitted to throwing grenades and the case is ongoing.

This latest attack comes after a long period of calm. The last grenade attack in Rwanda was not in Kigali, but in Rusizi district in western Rwanda in July, 2010.

View Kigali grenade attacks 2010 – 2011 in a larger map

Update: 4 January, 2012 – Rwanda police now confirm 18 people in total were wounded and of those two died of their injuries in the Nyabisindu grenade attack. Here’s my update for Reuters. My colleague at Reuters TV also has a short video report from the scene.

Update: The U.S. Embassy published a Warden’s message about the attack

Update: Paris-based journalist Daniel Finnan speaks with Theos Badege, Rwanda police spokesman about the attack (audio file).

Update: The BBC quotes the Rwanda National Congress in a report on the attack,

“Either the government is implicated in these periodic grenade attacks, so as to find pretext to crack down on the political opposition at a time of dwindling internal and foreign support, or the regime has lost the ability to protect its citizens,” Theogene Rudasingwa, of the opposition Rwanda National Congress (RNC), said in a statement.

Mr Rudasingwa, who was once a close adviser to President Paul Kagame and ex-secretary general of the Rwandan Patriotic Front, the rebel army that put a stop to the 1994 genocide, called it a “cowardly act”. link

Update: Rwanda Police update on the attack,

The Rwanda National Police (RNP) calls upon the general public to remain calm and vigilant following the grenade explosion on Tuesday evening in Gasabo district, City of Kigali, which injured 18 people.

The explosion happened at about 6:40PM in Marembo Village, Nyabisindu Cell, Remera Sector, in a populated area where people were selling fruits and vegetables.

Two people died, 15 have so far been treated and discharged, while one remains under medical treatment at Kanombe hospital.

As investigations continue, Rwanda National Police assures the public that whoever is behind the blast will be brought to book to answer the criminal charges, like has been the case in the past.

We urge the public to continue to cooperate and share timely information, through community policing channels, by reporting anything suspicious to the nearest police station or other security organs and concerned authorities.

Rwanda National Police extends our sympathy to those affected by this criminal incident. We remain committed to working for a crime free Rwanda. link

Update: 5 January, 2012 – Rwanda’s Minister of Health visited victims of the attack at Kibagabaga hosptial,

The Minister of Health, Dr Agnes Binagwaho, yesterday visited victims of Tuesday’s grenade attack who are admitted at Kibagabaga and Rwanda Military hospitals. The explosion occurred at about 6:40pm in Marembo Village, Nyabisindu Cell, Remera Sector.

During her visit, the minister condemned the act saying it was inhuman.

“I am very angry and disappointed that such a thing happened. Everyone should stand against such inhumane acts,” urged the minister, adding that the victims will get the necessary medical treatment required to recuperate. She commended the medical teams for acting swiftly to help the victims. link

Update: Radio Netherlands Worldwide has a good, short report following up on events with some of the victims of the attack,

In the aftermath of the tragedy, survivors of the explosion are still struggling to recall the events. Everything happened so fast, Eugène Niyibizi explains: “I was about to go to the shoemaker when I was burnt on the forehead by a sudden blast. Before I knew it, I was being transported to the Kibagabaga hospital by soldiers who were assisting the victims”…

…“We’ve taken 18 injured victims to various hospitals, namely in Kibagabaga and Kanombe. Two of the three critically injured victims died on the way to the hospital”, declared police spokesperson Theos Badege.

However, according to Christian Umuhoza, a doctor at the Kibagabaga hospital, there were more casualties. “We received 32 injury cases, 25 were able to return to their families and seven were kept here for observation. One critically injured patient was transferred to the Kanombe hospital. We are currently treating six injury cases here in Kibagabaga”. link

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