April 7, 1994: Massive Killing Begins
The plan works
President Habyarimana was killed when his plane was shot down on the evening of April 6. Within hours members of the armed forces had killed political leaders opposed to Hutu Power, thus fulfilling the prediction made by the head of military intelligence in July 1992. Among the first killed was the prime minister, Agathe Uwilingiyimana. These slain politicians were seen as responsible for concessions to the RPF and several of them, including Madame Uwilingiyimana, were also seen as obstacles to installing a new political configuration, comprised only of Hutu Power supporters. After these leaders from the previous government were eliminated on April 7, military and political leaders of Hutu Power designated and installed a new government to implement its objectives.
Soon after members of the armed forces, reservists, Interahamwe and other militia, and ordinary civilians began hunting down and killing Tutsi. At sites where Tutsi had gathered in the thousands and put up resistance, soldiers and national police officers led the attacks, sometimes even using such weapons as mortars. The militia under political party leadership, and ordinary civilians organized by the local administrative officials, followed up the initial assaults, using a few firearms and many traditional weapons.
The soldiers and national police officers guarded the most important barriers and patrolled the main roads while the Interahamwe militia and the ordinary civilians guarded barriers at less crucial points, such as on local roads, and carried out footpatrols in neighborhoods.
The preparations for civilian self-defense had not been finished when the unexpected assassination of President Habyarimana triggered its implementation, but the basic lines were clear enough to make the process work: military and administrative officials cooperated, members of the armed forces providing the military know-how and the administrators supplying the manpower, recruited according to administrative unit of residence.
On April 7th, the Genocide Memorial Day public holiday in Rwanda memorialises victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.