Twenty-five years ago, Rwanda descended into an orgy of violence in which some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were massacred by the majority Hutu population over a 100-day period in what was the worst genocide in recent history.

The massacres, mostly by gangs wielding machetes, swept across Rwanda and groups of people were killed in their homes and farms and where they sought shelter in churches and schools. The mass killings started after a plane was shot down on April 6, 1994, in the capital, Kigali, killing President Juvenal Habyarimana. The killers were encouraged by hate messages broadcast on radio stations. Rwandan police, military and other government authorities did not stop the killings.

Scores of thousands of terrified Tutsis fled Rwanda for neighboring countries including Congo, Tanzania and Uganda. The waves of murders continued until the rebel forces of the Rwandan Patriotic Front took control of the country. Paul Kagame, who led the rebels, helped re-establish order in the country and served as vice-president and defense minister from 1994 until he became Rwanda’s president in 2000. Under Kagame’s leadership Rwanda has achieved stability and economic growth, although he is widely accused of being intolerant of criticism and of running a repressive government.

WARNING: This gallery contains graphic content.
WARNING: This gallery contains graphic content.

The scale of the killings in 1994 was unimaginable but the reporting and photographs taken at the time, for which AP won Pulitzer prizes, helped to inform the world of the horrors of the genocide.

EDS NOTE: GRAPHIC CONTENT - FILE - In this May 31, 1994, file photo, the bodies of a woman and her child lie by a church in Nyarubuye parish, which was the site of an April 14 massacre that survivors say was perpetrated by a militia assisted by government gendarmes, about 95 miles east of the capital Kigali, in Rwanda. (AP Photo/Jean-Marc Bouju, File)
EDS NOTE: GRAPHIC CONTENT – FILE – In this May 31, 1994, file photo, the bodies of a woman and her child lie by a church in Nyarubuye parish, which was the site of an April 14 massacre that survivors say was perpetrated by a militia assisted by government gendarmes, about 95 miles east of the capital Kigali, in Rwanda. (AP Photo/Jean-Marc Bouju, File)
EDS NOTE: GRAPHIC CONTENT - FILE - In this May 31, 1994, file photo, the body of a man lies at the entrance to a church in Nyarubuye, Rwanda. (AP Photo/Jean-Marc Bouju, File)
EDS NOTE: GRAPHIC CONTENT – FILE – In this May 31, 1994, file photo, the body of a man lies at the entrance to a church in Nyarubuye, Rwanda. (AP Photo/Jean-Marc Bouju, File)
FILE - In this June 4, 1994, file photo, Reverien Rurangua, who was wounded in a machete attack and evacuated by the Red Cross from Kabgayi, near Kigali, sits on a bed with no mattress at a hospital in Nyanza, some 35 miles south of the capital Kigali, in Rwanda. (AP Photo/Jean-Marc Bouju, File)
FILE – In this June 4, 1994, file photo, Reverien Rurangua, who was wounded in a machete attack and evacuated by the Red Cross from Kabgayi, near Kigali, sits on a bed with no mattress at a hospital in Nyanza, some 35 miles south of the capital Kigali, in Rwanda. (AP Photo/Jean-Marc Bouju, File)
FILE - In this May 14, 1994, file photo, a pickup truck carries Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) rebels to front line positions closer to the capital Kigali, on the road near Rugende, about 5 miles east of Kigali, in Rwanda. (AP Photo/Jean-Marc Bouju, File)
FILE – In this May 14, 1994, file photo, a pickup truck carries Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) rebels to front line positions closer to the capital Kigali, on the road near Rugende, about 5 miles east of Kigali, in Rwanda. (AP Photo/Jean-Marc Bouju, File)
FILE - In this Friday, May 13, 1994, file photo, a boy who survived a massacre in the village of Karubamba in April and whose leg was injured by a machete, rests on his crutches at a hospital near Gahini, in Rwanda. (AP Photo/Jean-Marc Bouju, File)
FILE – In this Friday, May 13, 1994, file photo, a boy who survived a massacre in the village of Karubamba in April and whose leg was injured by a machete, rests on his crutches at a hospital near Gahini, in Rwanda. (AP Photo/Jean-Marc Bouju, File)
EDS NOTE: GRAPHIC CONTENT - FILE - In this June 8, 1994, file photo, a little girl clutches the body of her mother, who died two days earlier of starvation, in the chapel of a seminary housing displaced Tutsis in Kabgayi. (RPF) found them six days after they took Kabgayi from government forces, who survivors said ran the compound as a concentration camp. (AP Photo/Jean-Marc Bouju, File)
EDS NOTE: GRAPHIC CONTENT – FILE – In this June 8, 1994, file photo, a little girl clutches the body of her mother, who died two days earlier of starvation, in the chapel of a seminary housing displaced Tutsis in Kabgayi. (RPF) found them six days after they took Kabgayi from government forces, who survivors said ran the compound as a concentration camp. (AP Photo/Jean-Marc Bouju, File)
FILE - In this June 9, 1994, file photo, a young orphan, his legs amputated below the knee, rests on a foam cushion near his artificial limbs at an orphanage in Nyanza, about 35 miles southwest of the capital Kigali, Rwanda. (AP Photo/Jean-Marc Bouju, File)
FILE – In this June 9, 1994, file photo, a young orphan, his legs amputated below the knee, rests on a foam cushion near his artificial limbs at an orphanage in Nyanza, about 35 miles southwest of the capital Kigali, Rwanda. (AP Photo/Jean-Marc Bouju, File)
FILE - In this Aug. 20, 1994, file photo, Rwandan refugee children plead with Zairean soldiers to allow them across a bridge separating Rwanda and Zaire where their mothers had crossed moments earlier before the soldiers closed the border, in Zaire, now known as Congo. (AP Photo/Jean-Marc Bouju, File)
FILE – In this Aug. 20, 1994, file photo, Rwandan refugee children plead with Zairean soldiers to allow them across a bridge separating Rwanda and Zaire where their mothers had crossed moments earlier before the soldiers closed the border, in Zaire, now known as Congo. (AP Photo/Jean-Marc Bouju, File)
FILE - In this May 17, 1994, file photo, refugees who fled the ethnic bloodbath in neighboring Rwanda carry water containers back to their huts at the Benaco refugee camp in Tanzania, near the border with Rwanda. (AP Photo/Karsten Thielker, File)
FILE – In this May 17, 1994, file photo, refugees who fled the ethnic bloodbath in neighboring Rwanda carry water containers back to their huts at the Benaco refugee camp in Tanzania, near the border with Rwanda. (AP Photo/Karsten Thielker, File)
FILE - In this July 27, 1994, file photo, a Rwandan Hutu refugee child desperately tries to waken his mother from a diseased sleep in the Munigi camp outside Goma, in Zaire, now known as Congo. (AP Photo/Javier Bauluz, File)
FILE – In this July 27, 1994, file photo, a Rwandan Hutu refugee child desperately tries to waken his mother from a diseased sleep in the Munigi camp outside Goma, in Zaire, now known as Congo. (AP Photo/Javier Bauluz, File)
FILE - In this June 6, 1994, file photo, a starving woman, one of thousands of civilians caught in the fighting between government troops and the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) rebels, sips milk at a makeshift health clinic in Ruhango, where doctors say 20 to 25 people die every day from disease and hunger, about 30 miles southwest of the capital Kigali, in Rwanda. (AP Photo/Jean-Marc Bouju, File)
FILE – In this June 6, 1994, file photo, a starving woman, one of thousands of civilians caught in the fighting between government troops and the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) rebels, sips milk at a makeshift health clinic in Ruhango, where doctors say 20 to 25 people die every day from disease and hunger, about 30 miles southwest of the capital Kigali, in Rwanda. (AP Photo/Jean-Marc Bouju, File)
FILE - In this June 4, 1994, file photo, Nyabimana (first name unknown), 26, who was evacuated after being found by the Red Cross wandering in Kabgayi, about 15 miles southwest of the capital Kigali, shows machete wounds at an International Committee of the Red Cross hospital in Nyanza, about 35 miles southwest of Kigali, in Rwanda. (AP Photo/Jean-Marc Bouju, File)
FILE – In this June 4, 1994, file photo, Nyabimana (first name unknown), 26, who was evacuated after being found by the Red Cross wandering in Kabgayi, about 15 miles southwest of the capital Kigali, shows machete wounds at an International Committee of the Red Cross hospital in Nyanza, about 35 miles southwest of Kigali, in Rwanda. (AP Photo/Jean-Marc Bouju, File)
FILE - In this Friday, July 29, 1994 file photo, a six-month-old Rwandan baby girl weighing only two and a half kilograms (5. (AP Photo/Jacqueline Arzt Larma, File)
FILE – In this Friday, July 29, 1994 file photo, a six-month-old Rwandan baby girl weighing only two and a half kilograms (5. (AP Photo/Jacqueline Arzt Larma, File)
FILE - In this July 28, 1994, file photo, a Rwandan child too weak to stand in line to receive a vaccination, rests his head at the SOS village orphanage housing about 3,000 Rwandan children in the crowded encampment in Ndosho near Goma, in Zaire, now known as Congo. (AP Photo/Jacqueline Arzt Larma, File)
FILE – In this July 28, 1994, file photo, a Rwandan child too weak to stand in line to receive a vaccination, rests his head at the SOS village orphanage housing about 3,000 Rwandan children in the crowded encampment in Ndosho near Goma, in Zaire, now known as Congo. (AP Photo/Jacqueline Arzt Larma, File)
FILE - In this Dec. 19, 1996, file photo, tens of thousands of Rwandan refugees, who have been forced by the Tanzanian authorities to return to their country despite fears they will be killed upon their return, stream back towards the Rwandan border on a road in Tanzania. (AP Photo/Jean-Marc Bouju, File)
FILE – In this Dec. 19, 1996, file photo, tens of thousands of Rwandan refugees, who have been forced by the Tanzanian authorities to return to their country despite fears they will be killed upon their return, stream back towards the Rwandan border on a road in Tanzania. (AP Photo/Jean-Marc Bouju, File)
FILE - In this Aug. 17, 1994, file photo, some of the 334 inmates in a prison who are accused of committing war crimes and participating in the genocide, sit in the prison in Kibungo, Rwanda. (AP Photo/Javier Bauluz, File)
FILE – In this Aug. 17, 1994, file photo, some of the 334 inmates in a prison who are accused of committing war crimes and participating in the genocide, sit in the prison in Kibungo, Rwanda. (AP Photo/Javier Bauluz, File)

Sign up to receive our latest news!

By submitting this form, I agree to the terms.