Police: Deputy president of Rwandan opposition party found dead after missing for a day

KIGALI, Rwanda (AP) — A Rwandan opposition leader who had been missing for a day was found dead Wednesday near the border with Burundi, officials said, and a colleague said it may have been a targeted killing.

The body of Andre Kagwa Rwisereka, the first vice president of the unregistered Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, was found on the banks of river Mukula in the Southern Province. His head was almost detached from his body, said Frank Habineza, the party's president.

"We are extremely shocked and worried. Personally I am worried because in the past I have also received phone calls from people threatening to kill me before elections," Habineza said. He said, however, that he did not know what could have led to Rwisereka's death.

Police spokesman Eric Kayiranga said his officers had taken Rwisekera's body to a mortuary but declined to give details about the body. Rwisereka's car was recovered from the same area on Tuesday. Kayiranga said Rwisereka had been reported missing since early Tuesday.

Rwisereka's death comes in the wake of increased violence ahead of Rwanda's presidential elections in August. Earlier this year, there were three grenade attacks in the capital, Kigali. Unknown assailants attempted to kill a dissident Rwandan general who is in exile in South Africa. A local journalist, Jean-Leonard Rugambage, who allegedly linked the government to the attempt on the general's life, was killed last month.

One of the two men charged with Rugambage's murder pleaded guilty to the charges. Rugambage's killing was linked to an article he wrote for the independent newspaper Umuvugizi in which he pointed to possible government involvement in the attempted killing the dissident general.

But Bidace Nduguyangu told a court Wednesday that he shot Rugambage because of his involvement in the 1994 genocide in which the journalist, while working for the military, allegedly killed his friend's brother.

Nduguyangu testified that he and Karemera were not happy with a two-year sentence Rugambage was given by a traditional court, so they started plotting revenge. Rugambage only served a year of his sentence for crimes linked to the genocide.

Karemera, however, denied any involvement in court. A bail hearing is expected Thursday for the two men.