Jan. 7 (GIN) – Six years after obtaining political asylum in South Africa, former Rwandan intelligence chief Patrick Karegeye died under mysterious circumstances in a hotel room in Johannesburg.

South African police say the dissident appeared to have been strangled with a rope and a bloodied towel found in the hotel room safe.

Mr. Karegeya was a colonel under his former ally President Paul Kagame but was stripped of the rank after a falling out.

In a similar unexplained killing, Rwanda’s first post-genocide Interior Minister, Seth Sendashonga, was shot dead in Nairobi shortly after resigning in 1996, leading to a diplomatic row between Kenya and Rwanda. The Metropolitan Police has warned two dissidents based in London of threats to kill them. And there were two attempts to kill former army chief Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa in South Africa.

The apparent murder of Patrick Karegeya will make Rwandan dissidents feel even less safe. His death is a blow to the opposition party he founded, the Rwanda National Congress. But it could also be a huge embarrassment for President Kagame.

According to ex-general Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa, also in South African exile, Mr Karegeya had gone to the upmarket Michelangelo Towers hotel to meet “somebody he knew very well, somebody who had come from Kigali”.

He accused the Rwandan government of being behind the killing. Rwandan officials deny the charge.

Mr Karegeya and Gen. Nyamwasa were among four exiled former top officials for whom Rwanda issued international arrest warrants in 2011. They were sentenced in absentia for threatening state security and promoting ethnic divisions.

Mr. Kagame has been accused of not tolerating opposition. w/pix of P. Karegeya