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Hunde and allies vs Hutu, Banyarwanda

Years: 1993-1996
Non-state conflict, battle-deaths: 3,938 [3]
Onesided violence: 365 [2]

Nation(s) involved and/or conflict territory [note]
Democratic Republic of the Congo

This conflict is coded as a non-state conflict.
Published: 2016-04-02 21:33:50 | Updated: 2018-07-23 20:44:46
This was a war along ethnic lines and with no, or little, direct state involvement militarily (coded as a non-state conflict in UCDP datasets), but allegedly with involvement of local political officials, that started in spring 1993 in the Northern Kivu region of Northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo or DRC (then Zaire) after years of tension and continued until 1996.

The following passage is quoted from an Human Rights Watch report about the situation in Nort Kivu from 1996.

Beginning in March 1993, Hunde, Nyanga, and Nande militia groups called Mai-Mai or Bangirima, which apparently had the support of local Zairian political officials, began to attack the Banyarwanda population in several zones of North Kivu. In response, the Hutu, who were the main targets of the attacks, formed their own militia. Attacks and counterattacks by rival ethnic militia continued for nearly six months, leaving approximately 6,000 dead and displacing an estimated 250,000. Through the action of local nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), churches, and the intervention of the central Zairian government, which deployed elite troops in Masisi, a tenuous peace was restored to the region in July 1993, and most people were able to return to their home communities. However, none of the underlying political issues were resolved, thus setting the stage for the resumption of violence.

Renewed fighting between the groups broke out in 1994 when around one million refugees, mostly Hutus poured into Kivu from Rwanda, fearing reprisals after the 1994 genocide. This influx created great instability in the region and lead to widespread violence and fighting, not only between Hunde and Hutu militias, but in form of onesided violence against the Tutsi of the region. During this period the Extremist Hutu Interahamwe militia, which was a driving force in the Rwandan genocide, regrouped and began to operate in Kivu. The governments response to the renewed fighting and the influx of refugees seem to have have contributed to the insecurity.

In May and June of 1995, the ethnic militia, known collectively as the "combatants," (abacombattant) launched renewed attacks. The Mai-Mai and Bangirima groups of Hunde, Nande, and Nyanga fought with HutuInterahamwe militia in Masisi and Rutshuru. Both sides attacked villages, pillaging and burning homes, displacing thousands of people and furthering the process of establishing ethnic enclaves. At this time, Tutsi families, both Zairian nationals and refugees from Rwanda's ethnic conflicts in the 1960s and 1970s, were targeted by both groups.

The latest round of interethnic violence began in southern and eastern parts of the Masisi zone in November 1995. Several factors contributed to rising tensions in the region that set the stage for renewed violence. Threats by President Mobutu and other members of the Zairian government to close the Rwandan refugees camps by the end of December seem to have increased the anxiety of Rwandan Hutu refugees, many of whom believed that they would be arrested or killed if they were forced to return to Rwanda. Hutu leaders in the camps began to talk of Masisi as a "Hutu-land," where Rwandan Hutu could settle as an alternative to returning to Rwanda, which had become a "Tutsi-land." These claims infuriated the area's Hunde, Nyanga, and Tembo, who view Masisi as their ancestral territory and have feared the creation of a "greater Rwanda" or "Hutu-land" in the region, and their leaders called for the camps to be closed and the refugees repatriated. Public comments by General Eluki, the chief of staff of the Zairian army, during an official visit in Goma in November, appeared to give official sanction for the "autochthonous" groups to take up arms once again. In a public setting and in the presence of journalists, General Eluki stated that the Hunde, Nyanga, and Tembo were justified in fighting for the land of their ancestors and seeking to expel "foreigners," which was interpreted by other groups in the region to mean all Banyarwanda, not simply the Hutu refugees.


The immediate spark that reignited the interethnic fighting in Masisi seems to have been conflict over local resources, particularly firewood, in the vicinity of several Rwandan refugee camps. Clashes in early December between Mai-Mai and Zairian army soldiers at Bikenge, Masisi town, and elsewhere intensified the level of combat, and violence quickly spread throughout southern Masisi. Mai-Mai appear to have launched most of the initial attacks against Hutu, but Hutu Interahamwe groups quickly responded with attacks of their own on predominantly Hunde and Nyanga villages. Because of their vast numerical superiority and better armaments, the Hutu militia were quickly able to dominate. By the end of December, Interahamwe attacks had driven thousands of Hunde, Tembo, Nyanga, and Tutsi out of parts of Masisi, particularly areas near the refugee camps.


In the first months of 1996, fighting gradually spread into other parts of Masisi and Rutshuru. In response the government launched ”Operation Kimia” on April 11, as the first step in an effort to bring about peace talks between the warring groups.

UCDP marks last date of recorded combat between Hutu and Hunde to October 21, 1996.

Source: Human Rights Watch Report, July 1996, Vol. 8, No. 2 (A), ZAIRE FORCED TO FLEE Violence Against the Tutsis in Zaire. Link, retrieved 2016-04-02

Further reading:
UN DHA IRIN Masisi Report of 23 August 1996 96.08.23


[2] UCDP One-sided Violence Dataset v. 1.4-2016 (link) including actors: / Mayi Mayi - Ngilima / Interahamwe, MAGRIVI
Low: 259 High: 1,044

[3] UCDP Non-State Conflict Dataset UCDP Non-State Conflict Dataset v. 2.5-2016 (link) including dyads: / Hunde vs Hutu / Banyarwanda vs Hunde, Nyanga
Low: 1,238 High: 11,999

More about sources


NOTE! Nation data for this war may be inconlusive or incomplete. In most cases it reflects which nations were involved with troops in this war, but in some it may instead reflect the contested territory.



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