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Journalist killed in Kigali

(MI/IFEX) - A Rwandan journalist at the critical "Umuvugizi" tabloid was shot dead by unknown assailants as he returned to his home in Kigali city on June 24, 2010.

Jean Leonard Rugambage, aka Sherif, was the deputy chief editor of "Umuvugizi" newspaper, which was suspended for six months by the country's statutory Media High Council in April.

"Umuvugizi" Chief Editor Jean Bosco Gasasira, who is in exile in Uganda, said Rugambage was shot dead at 23 hrs local time, as he entered his home in the Nyambirambo suburb of Kigali.

"They shot four bullets and two caught Sherif in the chest right in front of the gate to his home," Gasasira said.

Police confirmed Rugambage's death.

Rwanda's National Police Spokesman Chief Superintendant Eric Kayiranga said Rugambage's body was found in a pool of blood on the night of 24 June in front of his home.

"The body is at the police hospital mortuary while investigations go on. No suspect has been arrested yet," Kayiranga said.

Gasasira suspects Rwandan security operatives are behind his colleague's death. He said the deceased had reported being trailed by unknown plainclothes gunmen the whole day on 24 June.

He linked the murder to a story Rugambage published on "Umuvugizi"'s online edition, which alleged that Rwandan security operatives were behind last week's assassination attempt on exiled former Rwanda Army Chief of Staff Lt. General Kayumba Nyamwasa in South Africa.

Gen. Nyamwasa fled Kigali early this year amid rising tension in the country and increasing fall-outs in President Paul Kagame's ruling Rwanda Patriotic Front. It coincided with a series of grenade explosions that killed several people. The government blamed the insecurity on insurgents within its ranks and effected changes in key security organs.

Rwanda is set to hold presidential elections in August, in which incumbent Gen. Kagame is seeking re-election. Tension has been building in the tiny country amid claims of repression of the opposition and a wide clampdown on free speech.
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