Suzanne Nyirantagorama felt the familiar grip of terror when she spotted four Hutu militia men among the quiet hordes walking past her house.
She said they had killed her neighbors with machetes during the genocide in 1994, slashing off their arms and legs before severing their heads. Then they poured gasoline on the house and set it on fire in case anyone was hiding inside.Terrified at the sight of their faces, she told herself that they couldn't hurt her because they carried no machetes.
"The Interahamwe are a spent force, I believe that," she said Sunday.
Most of the men who orchestrated the genocide are believed to be fleeing deeper into Zaire. But there were other reports Sunday that some were sneaking across the border.
The enormous flow of people - up to 400,000 in three days - has made it impossible for Rwandan authorities to frisk many of the refugees. They won't be registered until they return to their home villages.
Some members of Mrs. Nyirantagorama's family were too frightened to sleep at home Saturday night in case the Interahamwe returned to finish them off. They're among the few survivors of a massacre in the cathedral here in 1994.
More than 250 innocent people were slaughtered by a Hutu mob after seeking sanctuary in the church. In all, 500 Tutsis in the parish were massacred, their mutilated bodies dumped into a mass grave by their neighbors.
Only a handful survived, and on Sunday most of the faithful at mass were Hutu. A sign near the front door said: "We must pray a lot so that the genocide does not return to our country. Killing someone is against the word of God."
The priest, Rev. Jean-Marie Nsengumureemyi, said he believed the return of the refugees will be a critical test for Rwanda. More than 40,000 Hutus are already in jail, accused of crimes against humanity. None have been tried. The justice system is being rebuilt from scratch, and there are very few lawyers in the country.
"There won't be a problem if there is justice that punishes the criminals and protects the others," he said.
He, too, is a genocide survivor. Although he preaches about reconciliation, he said some Tutsis want revenge, some want justice, while others fear that the huge influx of Hutus will mean more violence.
He said he believes the international community should abandon the idea of providing emergency aid to the refugees. Instead, he said, Rwanda needs help to establish a new justice system.
Foreign aid is also necessary to build houses and create jobs. Many refugees are returning home to find Tutsis, including many who had been in exile for more than 30 years, living in their houses and cultivating their fields.
Mrs. Nyirantagorama isn't convinced there's a solution to the problems posed by the 700,000 new arrivals. She's resigning herself to the fact that the men who killed her neighbors might never be brought to justice.
After all, thousands of ordinary Hutus participated in the genocide, which wiped out more than half a million of the minority Tutsis in three months.
"Women killed Tutsis, so did children, and many, many men," she said. "Can we put them all in prison?"
Like many Tutsis, she and her five children survived in 1994 because of the kindness and courage of Hutus who dared to save their lives. Three families hid her and her children for three months until they could escape over the border to Zaire.
When she returned after the genocide, it was her neighbors' turn to flee to Zaire.
On Sunday, along the road, she saw a familiar face that didn't terrify her. One of the three families that had taken her in were returning home, tired, hungry and in need of her help.
"I was so happy to see them," she said. "I gave them what I could."
(Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service.)