A Hutu militiaman who boasted he was without pity rounded up 170 people hiding in a Roman Catholic church and took them off to slaughter, two priests who escaped said Saturday.
The priests spoke to reporters moments after reaching the rebel-held section of Rwanda's divided capital. They said they saw the dead bodies of only 10 of the people who had been taken Friday from the church but presumed the others met the same fate."They told us many times: `We will kill your people,' " the Rev. Otto Mayer said of the government-trained militiamen.
An estimated 200,000 people have died since the civil war erupted anew in April, most of them minority Tutsis murdered by militiamen from the majority Hutu ethnic group.
But the Hutu government does not appear to have any real control over the militiamen, who roam army-controlled areas at will, throwing up roadblocks and menacing everybody.
"These people are a power unto themselves," the Rev. Henri Blanchard, a man in remarkably good condition considering his harrowing experience, said of the militias.
On top of the ethnic bloodshed, the mostly Tutsi rebels have been fighting to overthrow the government.
Mayer, 47, a German, and Blanchard, 58, of France, said they had been trapped in their church-school complex with about 250 people since April 7 - the day after Rwanda's Hutu president was killed in a mysterious plane crash, reigniting the civil war.
The priests said hundreds of other Tutsis were hiding in government-held sectors of the capital, including at least 300 in an orphanage near their church.
The U.N. force in Rwanda, with only 450 men and little equipment, does not have the capacity to force itself into a hostile area and extract threatened civilians.