Bujumbura violence claims three lives, Afrika Reporter correspondent arrested

Pierre Nkurikiye, Burundi Police Spokesman

Pierre Nkurikiye, Burundi Police Spokesman

Three people were killed and several others injured, including 10 police and military officials in the violence that shook Bujumbura’s Cibitoke neighborhood Monday.

The whole of Monday police and the military engaged a group of armed men in the area, halting all activity and movement.

The violence continued through the night as the militia attacked the Youth Centre of Kamenge in the north of the capital, injuring a policeman and damaging windows and rooms of the Centre’s buildings.

“A group of unknown men threw more than 10 hand grenades and fired rockets and bullets in the Centre and its vicinities. Police forces managed to curb them so that they did not enter the premises,” said Pierre Nkurikiye, the police spokesman told the media Tuesday afternoon.

Near the Center, an unexploded hand grenade was discovered close to Nyabagere School neighboring the Youth Center Tuesday morning, which prompted all school children to return back home as the military and police forces tried to defuse it.

Mr. Nkurikiye also took the opportunity to refute allegations that the police force has been infiltrated by civilians and bad elements hell bent on harassing the government and President Pierre Nkurunziza’s political opponents and the public.

“This is a pure lie spread by ill-willed people. The police job is a technical job which can only be fulfilled by well trained and known persons, with identifications. We have never worked with other persons other than police officers themselves,” Nkurikiye stressed.

As the two-month deadline for the public to report illegal weapons inches to violence fueled by grenades and gunfire has become routine in the Burundian capital leading residents to live in perpetual fear.

In his inaugural address August 20, President Nkurunziza issued a two-month ultimatum to the security forces to restore stability across the country. Later on, the government announced amnesty to owners of illegal arms willing to hand them over voluntarily without worrying about any charges.

Daily deadly violence is proof the government’s move has not worked.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has commended the African Union’s efforts to investigate the perpetrators of the violence and gross human rights abuses in the East/Central African nation.

Mr. Ban Ki-moon spoke with Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission Tuesday about the situation in Burundi and applauded the continental body’s overtures to resolve the six-month devastating conflict.

“He (Ban) noted that such comprehensive and resolute action could offer Burundi the opportunity to put an end to the continuing violence and find a consensual political solution [on] the way forward,” Stephane Dujarric, the UN Secretary General’s Spokesperson, said in statement Tuesday.

The two leaders also reportedly agreed to continue working together to see restoration of peace in the country.

Earlier this month the AU announced it was going to probe violations of human rights in Burundi and urged the swift implementation of sanctions against those fueling the conflict. The European Union has sanctioned three officials in the Burundian government and a renegade general who took part in the May 13 failed coup.
Afrika Reporter correspondent arrested and detained

In a related development the one of the authors of this story was Tuesday arrested by the infamous plain-clothed Imbonerakure militia allied with the ruling party CNDD-FDD.

Mr. Bankukira, together with his colleague were arrested early morning as they were covering the Kamenge attack and violence. The unruly youth confiscated the journalists’ materials, and handed the duo to the police. The police later released the two reporters in the afternoon and ordered the militia young men to return the journalists’ belongings.