A week ago, suspected FDLR rebels killed 14 people and injured another 14, in the latest of the rebel outfit’s attacks which sent shockwaves throughout the country and beyond.
Being the real party spoilers, the attackers inflicted the blow to the country on the same day that the head of state and other top leaders had travelled to Bonn, Germany, where the government was holding its latest edition of Rwanda Day.
The attacks were brutal, with the rebels opting to use machetes and knives instead of guns – a move aimed at instilling a sense of fear among the populace.
Besides the fact that the country lost innocent lives to such a senseless attack, it stung the government quite significantly because it happened in Kinigi Sector, Musanze District, the country’s most popular tourism hub.
However, Rwanda’s army swung into action, deploying the military into the volcanoes national park, which neutralised the attackers, killing 19 of the rebels and arresting others before they could cross the border and get away with their crimes.
Besides this swift action by the army, the aftermath of the attack was managed in a collective manner by officials, who ensured that the media got access to the arrested suspects and timely information was made readily available through various channels.
This enabled Kinigi to go back to life in just a few days, with officials clearing tourists to go hiking, gorilla trekking as well as other scheduled touristic adventures.
Save for the significantly increased number of the military in the Volcanoes national park, it was even hard to tell that something tragic had happened on those hills just a few days ago.
It was a welcoming sight to see the chief executive of Rwanda Development Board mingling with hundreds of tourists and residents of Kinigi – it must have sent shock waves through the rebels’ minds, noticing that their attacks have not caused as much fear and panic as they expected to cause.
If anything, terrorists across the world are always defeated by a show of defiance from the people they attack. And such attacks somehow bring people together.
However, more needs to be done, not only to protect tourists and the country’s interests in tourism, but also the citizens.
This was not the first attack in a tourism hotspot, in the past attacks have happened in Nyungwe, where innocent citizens still lost their lives.
Although tourism is Rwanda’s strength, it has over the years been targeted by rebel forces, and it is people living in these touristic areas that suffer the most, with many families losing their breadwinners.
What this means is that the government should never lower its guard, and should not tire from exploring and establishing sustainable strategies to protect its citizens at all times.