14 bodies found in a river near Burundi capital

By Guyson Nanagayi Bujumbura – AFP- At least Fourteen bodies, some of them mutilated with machetes, have been discovered in a river west of Burundi’s capital, a local official said on Wednesday.

River Rusizi

“Since last week, we have found 14 bodies in this area, some of them with their limbs bound and others with machete wounds,” local administrator Julien Nimbona said.

“Fear has engulfed the region and residents fear a resumption of violence.”

In the latest discovery on Tuesday, four bodies were found floating on River Rusizi where it empties on Lake Tanganyika in the north of Burundi, he added.

“We are not sure who is behind these murders, but these bodies have been washed down by River Rusizi which flows through Rukoko marshes and some believe they are from there,” said the official.

The brutality of the killings is feeding fears that a new rebellion is brewing in the country, which is still recovering from a 12-year civil war.

Seven people were killed in an attack last week, which the government has blamed on bandits, not rebels.

Several residents have been killed near the Rukoko marshes, some 15 km north of the capital Bujumbura in recent days by armed bandits whom residents suspect to be a reformed rebel group.

Burundi’s top security officials have nevertheless been adamant that a recent spate of killings were the work of gangs of “unidentified armed bandits” and play down rumours that the former rebellion is reforming.

Following local elections in May, three opposition leaders went into hiding blaming President Pierre Nkurunziza’s party of having rigged the poll.

Nkurunziza’s main political rival, Agathon Rwasa,  initially refused to end the fighting when other warring factions set up a power-sharing government followed by elections in 2005 and went back to the bush, fuelling speculation that his National Liberation Forces has reformed, barely a year after laying down their arms.

During the conflict, both President Nkurunziza and Mr Rwasa led mainly Hutu rebel groups fighting against the army, which was then dominated by the Tutsi minority.

It is believed that some 300,000 people died in Burundi’s ethnic-based civil war.