The bloody history of Hutu and Tutsi conflict stained the 20th century, from the slaughter of 80,000 to 200,000 Hutus by the Tutsi army in Burundi in 1972 to the 1994 Rwanda genocide in which Hutu militias targeted Tutsis, resulting in a 100-day death toll between 800,000 and 1 million.
Many observers would be surprised to learn that the longstanding conflict between the Hutu and Tutsi has nothing to do with language or religion -- they speak the same Bantu tongues as well as French, and generally practice Christianity -- and many geneticists have been hard-pressed to find marked ethnic differences between the two, though the Tutsi have generally been noted to be taller.
Hutu and Tutsi are two groups in Africa that became known to most in other parts of the world through the grisly 1994 Rwanda genocide, but the history of conflict between the two ethnic groups reaches back further than that.
The Tutsi are a mostly Roman Catholic, French-and-Bantu-dialect-speaking people numbering about 2.5 million and populating Rwanda, Burundi, and portions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The Hutu are a mostly Roman Catholic and Protestant, French-and-Bantu-dialect-speaking people numbering more than 11 million and populating Rwanda, Burundi, and portions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
At the end of October 2008, angry and frustrated Congolese were chucking rocks at a U.N. compound in the tumultuous eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Tutsi rebels were advancing unchecked, as many as 250,000 Congolese had already been displaced from their homes, and the Spanish commander of the peacekeeping mission who had only been in the country for three weeks, Lt. Gen. Vicente Díaz de Villegas y Herrería, had abruptly resigned.
Nowadays in the DRC, Tutsi rebels fight the government, which is accused of supporting Hutu refugees responsible for the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.
After ethnic majority Hutu extremists unleashed their fury on Tutsis, bodies of men, women and children littered roadsides and flowed down rivers past borders, carrying their morbid tales and ghastly machete wounds. These suspects in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, which claimed upwards of 800,000 lives in just a few months, are still wanted and being sought by Interpol.