Nearly a month after Kinshasa residents helped Congolese and allied troops beat back an attack on this city by ethnic Tutsi rebels, Kinshasa remains a bad place to be a Tutsi, look like one or be married to one.

The government of President Laurent Kabila has proclaimed a nationalist, anti-Tutsi crusade against the rebels, using "language that has been easily interpreted by people as an invitation" to kill any ethnic Tutsis, said a Western diplomat here.

Last month, the rebels -- supported by Rwanda and Uganda -- fought their way to Kinshasa's impoverished, outlying neighborhoods. Mobs of residents, angry at what most describe as a foreign invasion of Congo and their city, fought them -- but also lynched or arrested local Tutsis, their families and anyone suspected of rebel sympathies.

According to diplomats and human rights groups, scores and probably hundreds of local residents were killed in such attacks, and virtually all other Tutsis fled. The government is keeping more than 150 Tutsis and their non-Tutsi relatives at a military camp here, and says it is having difficulty finding a secure place in Congo where it can move them for their own safety.

The killings of Tutsis here is part of the ethnic and regional power struggle that drives Congo's current war. The Tutsis' historical roots are 1,000 miles east of here, where they ruled for centuries over the kingdoms of what are now Rwanda and Burundi.

Over generations, communities of Tutsis moved into eastern Congo, where they have tussled with larger ethnic groups for land and political power. By 1996 perhaps 10,000 Tutsis had migrated as far west as Kinshasa, local journalists said, and formed a significant economic and political elite viewed by many as distastefully foreign.

In 1996, the Tutsi minority in eastern Congo and the Tutsi government in Rwanda ignited the uprising that overthrew strongman ruler, Mobutu Sese Seko, and eventually brought Kabila to power. Mobutu appealed to Congolese nationalism and, in November 1996, Kinshasans rioted, lynching Tutsis and attacking their businesses.

After Mobutu's ouster last year, Kabila relied on Tutsis, including many Rwandans, to establish his military and much of his government. But Kabila steadily promoted allies from his ethnic group, the Luba of southeastern Congo, while reducing his dependence on Rwanda. In July, when Kabila ordered the thousands of Rwandan troops who formed the backbone and command of his army to return home, Rwanda and Congolese Tutsis -- including some of Kabila's key aides -- quickly joined to try to overthrow him.

In both Kinshasa and the east, Congolese have told foreign journalists they are broadly unhappy with Kabila's government but prefer it to what they see as a foreign invasion.

"A year ago, we welcomed {Kabila and the Rwandans} as liberators," said Joseph Kabeya, a food wholesaler in Kinshasa's central market. But "it's been a great disappointment. Now they're fighting, putting the population through another war."

Kabeya blamed Rwandans, who he said were trying to take over a country many times the size of their own. "No Congolese will permit it," he said.

Kinshasa television broadcast interviews with residents vowing to throw Tutsis out of the city. An official radio station in the eastern town of Bunia on Aug. 8 urged Congolese to attack Tutsis, whom it described physically: "Dear listeners! . . . Open your eyes wide. Those of you who live along the road, jump on the people with long noses, who are tall and slim and want to dominate us."

Kabila, who lacks an effective army, declared on Aug. 25 that all Congolese should "take up arms, even traditional weapons -- bows and arrows, spears and other things . . . to crush the enemy because otherwise we are going to become the slaves of these . . . Tutsi people."

Congo's most prominent human rights group -- the African Association for Defense of Human Rights, which operates clandestinely since the government banned it in April -- said the government "abusively exploited patriotic feelings to incite the population to blind acts of violence against anyone suspected of being a rebel, a Tutsi or connected even remotely with the rebellion."

During the battle for Kinshasa, mobs assaulted homes and business of Tutsis, often burning their victims to death in the streets. Amid the carnage, some Kinshasa residents sheltered Tutsis and helped them escape across the river to Brazzaville, capital of the neighboring Congo Republic, said Floribert Chebeya, head of another human rights group, Voice of the Voiceless.

The government gathered between 150 and 175 Tutsis and their relatives at a military barracks to protect them, said Congo's human rights minister, Leonard Okitundu. "They are under great psychological stress, of course," he said, and "the conditions are not very good because it is a military camp, not a residential center."

But Okitundu denied that the government had actively incited the violence. "In the fighting, there were excesses. . . . We don't condone that, but the attacks were not directed against {the victims} because they were Tutsis, but because they were rebels," Okitundu said.

He said the government had taken pains to protect the Tutsis in its custody. It has given them access to the International Committee of the Red Cross and is searching for a more comfortable, secure site in Congo where they might be moved.

Beyond the camp, it's uncertain that any of Kinshasa's Tutsi residents remain, a local journalist said. Some spouses and children of Tutsis are here, "but they are staying out of sight, and none of them wants to talk," he said. An American resident told of tramping around to foreign embassies to help a Congolese family that has gone into hiding because the father is a Tutsi. The man's wife, a non-Tutsi, "is trapped in her house. She has a 16-year-old daughter who looks Tutsi and neither of them dares to go out," the American said.

The family relies on trusted friends to bring food and to search for the passports, visas and airline tickets with which they hope to escape. CAPTION: President Kabila's anti-rebel crusade is interpreted as license to kill Tutsis. ec