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REBELS FIGHT FIERCELY TO GAIN GROUND IN KIGALI

SHARE REBELS FIGHT FIERCELY TO GAIN GROUND IN KIGALI

Rebels battled fiercely Tuesday to gain ground in the capital, Kigali, before the expected arrival of French troops they believe will back the government.

A French deployment seemed more likely after U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali urged the Security Council to consider the plan. Boutros-Ghali said Monday that the French troops could help to calm the situation until a larger U.N. force is assembled.The Security Council was to meet this afternoon to discuss sending an initial force of about 1,000 French troops. Jean-Bernard Merimee, France's U.N. ambassador, said the troops could arrive within days of U.N. approval.

France volunteered to send forces to Rwanda last week in an attempt to end the orgy of violence that has convulsed the country since the president, Juvenal Habyarimana, died in a suspicious plane crash April 6.

Most of the estimated 200,000 people who have died in Rwanda in the past seven weeks were members of the minority Tutsi tribe or were majority Hutu tribespeople accused of opposing the Hutu-dominated government.

The massacres, by government-trained Hutu militiamen or soldiers, re-ignited a civil war between Tutsi-led rebels and the Hutu-dominated government that had been stilled by an August truce.

The multinational U.N. peacekeeping force in Rwanda now numbers only 490 lightly armed soldiers who have unable to prevent widespread massacres of Rwandan civilians. It could take three months to send reinforcements, Boutros-Ghali said.

Although Rwandan rebels say they welcome U.N. troops, they are bitterly opposed to French peacekeepers.

France helped ward off a rebel advance in 1990, saying it was protecting foreign civilians. This time, France says it must intervene to stop the slaughter of Rwandan civilians.