KIGALI, Rwanda — A grenade exploded near a bus station in Rwanda’s capital late Wednesday, wounding at least seven people in an attack that came two days after the country’s presidential election, a police spokesman said.
The election commission said Wednesday that full provisional results showed President Paul Kagame was re-elected with 93 percent of the vote and that turnout was 97 percent.
Kagame has overseen strong economic growth in Rwanda but has been criticized for crackdowns on dissent and opposition groups. Opposition parties were banned from the vote and some Rwandans said they were forced to cast ballots for him.
Police spokesman Eric Kayiranga said seven people were hospitalized for injuries after the grenade explosion, including two seriously. Witnesses earlier had estimated around 20 people were wounded.
At the scene of the blast, there were blood stains on the ground and a motorbike lay in the street.
“I saw a grenade (rolling) past and then I felt myself falling down,” Michael Mugisha, a student who had blood on his shirt and a bandage under his right eye, said at the hospital. “People were running. There were so many people.”
Rwanda has seen several grenade attacks this year, including one in May and at least two in February. Authorities previously blamed the February attacks on a dissident Rwandan general. That general, former army chief Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa, was shot and wounded outside his South African home last month, and his wife blamed Kagame.
Rwanda’s most prominent opposition politician, Victoire Ingabire, has said that she fears violence could again break out in Rwanda because of Kagame’s approach to handling ethnic Hutus. Ingabire was arrested earlier this year on charges of genocide ideology and was not allowed to run in Monday’s election.
More than 500,000 Rwandans, mostly ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus, were killed in Rwanda’s 1994 genocide. Kagame, an ethnic Tutsi, has tried to downplay the role of ethnicity in post-genocide Rwanda, and people in the country rarely refer to themselves as Hutu or Tutsi and can face charges for speaking publicly about ethnicity.
Human rights groups and other critics also had decried the arrest of several opposition figures in the lead-up to Monday’s election, and noted that several others were killed or attacked under suspicious circumstances. The Rwandan government has denied any involvement in those attacks.
In Brussels, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton congratulated Rwanda on the organization of the elections. But Ashton noted that the EU remained concerned about the serious incidents which marred the pre-electoral period and urged Rwandan authorities to ensure that judicial proceedings were carried out.
“Further opening of the political space and strengthening the public debate throughout the country would significantly contribute to safeguarding Rwanda’s achievements and will benefit all Rwandese,” Ashton said.