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Rwanda commemorates 20 years since start of genocide

  • UN Rwanda-1.jpg

    This photo provided by the United Nations, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon meets with President of Rwanda Paul Kagame at Urugwiro Village in Kigali, Rwanda on Sunday, April 6, 2014. (AP Photo/United Nations, Evan Schneider) (The Associated Press)

  • APTOPIX Rwanda Genocide Friends-2.jpg

    In this photo taken Wednesday, March 26, 2014, Emmanuel Ndayisaba, left, and Alice Mukarurinda, recount their experiences of the Rwandan genocide at Alice's house in Nyamata, Rwanda. She lost her baby daughter and her right hand to a manic killing spree. He wielded the machete that took both. Yet today, despite coming from opposite sides of an unspeakable shared past, Alice Mukarurinda and Emmanuel Ndayisaba are friends. She is the treasurer and he the vice president of a group that builds simple brick houses for genocide survivors. They live near each other and shop at the same market. Their story of ethnic violence, extreme guilt and, to some degree, reconciliation is the story of Rwanda today, 20 years after its Hutu majority killed more than 1 million Tutsis and moderate Hutus. The Rwandan government is still accused by human rights groups of holding an iron grip on power, stifling dissent and killing political opponents. But even critics give President Paul Kagame credit for leading the country toward a peace that seemed all but impossible two decades ago. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis) (The Associated Press)

  • APTOPIX Rwanda Genocide Anniversary-3.jpg

    Rwandan children listen and pray during a Sunday morning service at the Saint-Famille Catholic church, the scene of many killings during the 1994 genocide, in the capital Kigali, Rwanda Sunday, April 6, 2014. Rwanda will commemorate on Monday the 20-year anniversary of the genocide when ethnic Hutu extremists killed neighbors, friends and family during a three-month rampage of violence aimed at ethnic Tutsis and some moderate Hutus, leaving a death toll that Rwanda puts at 1,000,050. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis) (The Associated Press)

  • UN Rwanda-4.jpg

    This photo provided by the United Nations, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon meets with President of Rwanda Paul Kagame at Urugwiro Village in Kigali, Rwanda on Sunday, April 6, 2014. (AP Photo/United Nations, Evan Schneider) (The Associated Press)

  • Rwanda Genocide Anniversary-5.jpg

    Rwandan children listen and pray during a Sunday morning service at the Saint-Famille Catholic church, the scene of many killings during the 1994 genocide, in the capital Kigali, Rwanda Sunday, April 6, 2014. Rwanda will commemorate on Monday the 20-year anniversary of the genocide when ethnic Hutu extremists killed neighbors, friends and family during a three-month rampage of violence aimed at ethnic Tutsis and some moderate Hutus, leaving a death toll that Rwanda puts at 1,000,050. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis) (The Associated Press)

Rwanda is commemorating the 20th anniversary of its devastating genocide in which machete and gunfire attacks killed more than 1 million people.

President Paul Kagame and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon together lit a flame at the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre on Monday in memory of those killed.

Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, attended and said genocide is a "devastating reminder that nightmares seemingly beyond imagination can in fact take place."

Ceremonies will continue at Kigali's main sports stadium, where thousands will participate in an evening candlelight ceremony.

Rwanda's 1994 genocide was carried out by extremist Hutus against Tutsis and some moderate Hutus. Kagame has won praise ending that violence and making advances in economic development and health care, although he is criticized for authoritarian control.