Mass graves that authorities say could contain more than 2,000 bodies have been discovered in Rwanda nearly a quarter-century after the country's genocide, and further graves are being sought nearby. The new discovery is being called the most significant in a long time in this East African nation that is still recovering from the 1994 killings of more than 800,000 ethnic Tutsi and moderate ethnic Hutus. Some Rwandans are shocked and dismayed that residents of the community outside the capital, Kigali, where the mass graves were found kept quiet about them for so many years. Between 2,000 and 3,000 people are thought to be buried in the graves based on the number of area residents who went missing during the genocide, Rashid Rwigamba, an official with the genocide survivors' organization Ibuka, tells the AP.
The information leading to the discovery came from a local landlord who at first refused to answer questions about the suspected mass graves until threatened with arrest, Rwigamba says. The landlord was later arrested, suspected of taking part in the killings and accused of knowing where people had been buried all along, he adds. Houses and toilets that had been built on top of the graves have been destroyed to make way for the search. "The exercise is ongoing and we have identified another house we suspect was built on a piece of land where victims were buried," Rwigamba says. Bodies found so far include those of babies, based on the clothing that has been found. During the genocide, a roadblock manned by Hutu militias was established meters away from the sites of the mass graves, survivors tell the AP.