March 5, 2010 / 8:29 AM / in 10 years

Grenade blasts kill one, injure 16 in Rwanda: police

KIGALI (Reuters) - Two synchronised grenade blasts injured 16 people in the Rwandan capital, and a third unrelated explosion killed one person in the west of the country, police said on Friday.

Rwanda's President Paul Kagame accepts one of the Clinton Global Citizen Awards at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York September 24, 2009. REUTERS/Chip East

The explosions in Kigali happened within 10 minutes of each other in early evening on Thursday, a day after President Paul Kagame sought to quell fears of instability in the central African country, which has tight security after a genocide 16 years ago.

They took place a fortnight after two people died in a similar attack.

“We are still investigating to know if they are coordinated or not and who are the real attackers. We are yet to know if it was the same (people),” police spokesman Eric Kayiranga told Reuters by telephone.

The third grenade exploded in western Rwanda near the resort town of Gisenyi on Thursday evening and killed one person, but police said it was an accident and unrelated to events in Kigali.

Authorities blamed the previous attacks on former army chief Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa, who last week resigned as Rwanda’s ambassador to India and fled into exile in South Africa. He denies the allegations.

The grenade attacks may tarnish Rwanda’s stable and secure image, which has made it a popular destination for highland gorilla tracking in recent years and made its tourism sector the largest foreign exchange earner.

Kagame, a former rebel leader who fought alongside Kayumba to end the genocide in 1994, is widely expected to secure a second seven-year term in a presidential election scheduled for August.

His hands-on style and well-publicised fight against graft has attracted total investment totalling $1.1 billion in 2009, with slightly less than half being foreign direct investments.

Critics call Kagame authoritarian and say his ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) is intolerant of dissent. Three men were arrested in connection with the triple grenade attack in February.

Kagame has completely rebuilt Africa’s most densely populated country since the slaughter of 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus. He has also installed stringent security in a country where killers and survivors continue to live side by side.

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