‘I saw machetes dripping with blood’

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IOL pic apr8 rwanda genocide anniversary Reuters Rwandan girls hold candles during a night vigil for the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the genocide, in Kigali, on April 7, 2014. Picture: Noor Khamis

Paris -

Soldiers use bayonets to kill the wounded in a hospital. Machete-carrying militiamen rampage in the streets. Children are mutilated.

Horrific scenes like these are what AFP journalist Annie Thomas witnessed when she covered the genocide in Rwanda 20 years ago.

Writing on the agency's Correspondent blog, Thomas looks back at 100 days of hell in Rwanda, when 800 000 people were massacred.

Based in AFP's Nairobi bureau from 1993 to 1998, Thomas became friends with Jean Helene, a Radio France Internationale journalist who was killed 10 years later in Ivory Coast. After the genocide, both journalists were attacked, sometimes virulently for their coverage of events.

“What purpose did all those articles serve?” Thomas asks.

“Nothing, I fear, except, perhaps, to assuage the guilt that I still feel now for not walking up to the murderous troops at the hospital and shouting at them to stop; for not allowing young people running from the militia to climb in our car; for having been given a hearty welcome because I'm French by killers whose machetes were still dripping with blood; for failing to write from the start that we were witnessing a genocide.” - Sapa-AFP

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