Bujumbura: Gunmen attacked military sites in Burundi’s capital on Friday and “many” of the assailants were killed or arrested after heavy fighting, officials and soldiers said, the latest flare-up in a nation Western powers fear is sliding back into ethnic conflict.
Heavy gunfire and blasts erupted early on Friday and shots were still heard across the capital Bujumbura long after daybreak. Residents said the streets were empty at a time when people are normally heading to work. Police were out in force.
The violence in Burundi is unnerving for a volatile region which only two decades ago saw a genocide in next-door Rwanda.
Night-time gunfire and sporadic blasts have become common in Bujumbura during a crisis sparked in April by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term, which opponents – often known as ‘Sindumuja’ – said violated a deal that ended a civil war in 2005. Nkurunziza won a disputed election in July.
Residents said Friday’s flare-up was much more intense.
“Sindumuja tried to attack military camps but they failed,” presidential media adviser Willy Nyamitwe wrote on Twitter, describing the raids as “a diversion” to try to free prisoners.