The killings, which took place January 7 and 8 in the town of Busasamana, was the result of a mob attack on the nuns' convent. After battering down the door with machetes, the assailants killed the five nuns and wounded two others before departing.
Just a month earlier, the nuns had been invited by Bishop Wenceslas Kalibushi of the local Nyundo diocese to leave their convent outpost and join the Catholic community in the larger city. But the nuns had declined, saying that they wished to continue serving the community in Busasamana.
Asked whether the massacre had been carried out by Hutu or Tutsi warriors, one Catholic missionary replied that he could not be sure, explaining: "Nothing in Rwanda is rational." He said that each side in the country's ethnic warfare pointed at the other side, while some observers guessed that government soldiers were involved in the attack.