Richard Wilson's blog

richardcameronwilson AT yahoo dot co dot UK

Background and links on the Titanic Express massacre

with 2 comments

On December 28th 2000, twenty-one unarmed civilians, including my sister Charlotte Wilson (a British aid worker), and her Burundian fiancé Richard Ndereyimana, were massacred after their bus, bearing the ill-fated name “Titanic Express”, was ambushed in Bujumbura-Rurale, close to the Burundian capital Bujumbura.

According to survivors, the attackers opened fire on the bus at around 3.30pm local time (1.30pm in the UK), shooting out the tyres and forcing it to crash. A large, well-armed group then surrounded the vehicle, ordered the passengers out,  robbed them, and separated them according to their ethnicity. Several Hutus and Congolese were released unharmed. The remaining passengers were stripped to their underclothes, made to lie face down on the ground, and shot. Most of the victims were Rwandan and Burundian Tutsis. Charlotte Wilson was the only European on board.

Who carried out the attack?

The Titanic Express massacre took place in an area dominated by a Hutu-extremist rebel group known for its hatred of Tutsis, Palipehutu-FNL (aka “the FNL”). One survivor recounts that the attackers specifically identified themselves, saying “We are the FNL, not your FDD” (FDD was the FNL’s largest rival at the time). Others have simply described them as “rebels”.

In March 2001 Amnesty International listed the Titanic Express attack among several believed to have been carried out by the FNL. In May 2001, the International Crisis Group attributed the Titanic Express attack to FNL “troops under the order of… Agathon Rwasa”. A Human Rights Watch report from April 2000 lists a number of  carried out a number of similar attacks in the same area earlier in 2000.

In 2002, a document emerged which appears to be a detailed report by the FNL, signed by Commandant Albert Sibomana, of the Titanic Express attack, listing what was looted from the bus, how many people were killed and how many bullets were expended in killing them. Dozens of smaller attacks were listed in the same report.

Sibomana’s track record is bloodthirsty even by the standards of Burundi’s conflict. In February 2000, he reportedly oversaw the massacre of hundreds of his own comrades, after a split within the FNL.

At the time of the Titanic Express attack, Agathon Rwasa was FNL “Chief of Operations” around Bujumbura. In early 2001, he ousted the FNL’s then leader Kossan Kabura, and assumed overall control of the whole group.

Following years of negotiations, the FNL agreed to end hostilities in April 2009, and began disarming. But amid ongoing instability, the UN recently reported that Rwasa was remobilising his forces for a “new holy war” from bases in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Later I’ll add some links to further reading on Burundi’s recent history, and the long-promised plans for a UN-backed “Special Chamber” and Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

About these ads

Written by Richard Wilson

December 28, 2010 at 12:05 am

Posted in Don't Get Fooled Again

Tagged with

2 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Dear mr. Wilson,

    Let me introduce myself: I am a Belgian writer. I wrote four novels and some theaterwork.
    Right now I am preparing a novel in which de Titanic Bus massacre will be an important element. In my novel one of the killers is hiding in Flanders, and some elements in the Belgian State Security are protecting him.
    I will tell my readers about the horror of the massacre. Could you please give me more information, or tell me where I can find such. Names of victimes, names of killer, their commanders and so on.
    I will write with all due respect to the victims. Maybe I will not use the right name of the victims.
    My daughter-in-law is a Burundese girl. That ‘s why I would write about Burundi, because the tragedy is not well known in Belgium – all the attention goes to Ruanda, where Begian soldiers were killed.
    Sorry for my English.

    Herman De Jonghe

    April 20, 2012 at 8:37 am

    • Hi Herman – sounds like a very interesting project – could you email me more information at richardcameronwilson AT yahoo DOT co DOT uk ?
      Mijn vrouw is van Belgie – dus als je wil kan je me een email in het Nederlands schrijven!

      Richard Wilson

      April 20, 2012 at 12:54 pm


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: