Eight die in Burundi clashes

By Nangayi Guyson – BUJUMBURA(AFP) – At least eight  people were killed in two days of clashes between soldiers and “armed bandits” in north west Burundi, the army spokesperson Colonel Gaspard Baratuza said on Tuesday.

The clashes in the northwest on Sunday night and Monday started after the bandits killed a gold trader in Murwi district, army spokesman Colonel Gaspard Baratuza said.

“Soldiers who were based in the area intervened but the bandits staged an ambush and one of our men was killed,” Baratuza told AFP.

Another victim was a six-year-old girl who died of injuries she suffered on Monday morning, he said.

“The army and the police gave chase to the bandits and caught up with them around midday Monday. New clashes ensued, in which four of the armed bandits were killed…,” the colonel said, claiming not to know their identities.

The eighth person killed in the recent violence was a police officer, who died in one of two attacks on the capital Bujumbura overnight, a senior police commissioner, General David Nikiza, told AFP Tuesday.

The attacks on the capital took place around midnight with “one group attacking a police post at Mugoboke and … taking on the guards of Burundi’s intelligence chief General Adolphe Nshimirimana,” Nikiza said.

Witnesses said the exchange of fire lasted for over an hour and was punctuated by grenade explosions.

The police officer died in the second attack on Bujumbura’s Musaga quarter after he tried to stop assailants who were looting and raping, Nikiza said.

The ambushes and clashes that have become more and more common over the past few weeks are systematically attributed by the authorities to “non-identified bandits”.

Several political and military figures have however in private attributed the attacks to opposition leaders who have gone back underground, most notably Agathon Rwasa, the former leader of the National Liberation Forces (FNL) rebel group.