Burundi: 15 killed in multiple attacks in Bujumbura

GHOST CITY: Bujumbura's empty streets Friday afternoon.

GHOST CITY: Bujumbura’s empty streets Friday afternoon.

At least 12 gunmen, 21 and three soldiers were killed as others sustained serious injuries Friday morning in coordinated attacks in the capital Bujumbura, according to officials 21 attackers were also captured.

Signaling the deadly escalation of the current conflict, a group of armed men attacked several localities, including military barracks in what officials say was an attempt to steal weapons and other military tools and use them in future attacks.

Bujumbura residents reported hearing a series of grenade explosions and heavy gunfire about 4 am in several parts of the capital as security forces engaged the assailants in Cibitoke and Ngagara in the north of the capital and in Bwiza, Nyakabiga and Jabe in the city centre. Heavy fighting was also reported in Musaga and Kanyosha and the fighting in all these areas continued through Friday afternoon.
Due to intense fighting and chaos, Bujumbura was shut down and deserted as residents hunkered down in their homes.

According to military sources, two military barracks in Bujumbura, Ngagara and Muha together with the National Military Institute (ISCAM) were attacked by unknown armed group. Another military post was raided in Mujejuru area, Mugongomanga district of Bujumbura province.

In a press statement issued Friday, Colonel Gaspard Baratuza, the army spokesman said the attackers’ motive was to seize guns and ammunition from military barracks and to use these weapons to free prisoners in various prisons across the country.

Burundian military surround captured attackers in civilian clothing

Burundian military surround captured attackers in civilian clothing

“The enemy targeted military barracks with intention of penetrating and holding some military equipments such as guns and ammunitions. They did not manage and our soldiers caused a lot of damages,” said Col. Baratuza adding “the situation is now under control of our defense and police forces.”

Baratuza went on to reveal that five soldiers were wounded in the attacks but military official speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the story said three soldiers were killed.

For several hours Friday, business and life in the capital ground to a halt, no in or out bound traffic was allowed. Schools, public offices, shops, banks and markets remained closed.
There has been heavy police and military deployments along major highways of the capital Bujumbura.
Friday’s attack comes a day after rumours of a possible military coup were making rounds within the Burundian community on social media.

Burundi has already witnessed a failed coup on May 13 this year as renegade generals attempted to overthrow President Pierre Nkurunziza as he attended a regional summit on the crisis.
Willy Nyamitwe, Senior Communication Advisor in the president’s Office, tweeted Thursday “the insurgency ended with a failed Coup” and that some members of the armed gang were in total disarray with an elite police unit hunting them down.

Over the last few months, there has been persistent talk of a rebel attack, and the authorities in Bujumbura have openly accused neighbouring Rwanda of training and arming refugees to prepare them to mount an attack on Burundi. Rwanda has refuted these allegations.

Still earlier today, there was reports of the government declaring a state of emergency out of the Cabinet meeting chaired by President Nkurunziza but Mr. Nyamitwe strongly dismissed them tweeting “The Government of Burundi has not declared a state of emergency. Some people manipulate information as usual.”

Over 300 people have died in this turmoil and hundreds of thousands have sought refuge in neighbouring countries.

Experts and observers have warned Burundi has reached a point of no return many appealing to stakeholders to resume talks without delay lest the country slides back to a catastrophic civil war.

“If we don’t act, there is a risk that this increasing violence could lead to a civil war, so it is the right time for all the Burundian actors to sit together and stop this violence,” Adama Dieng, Special Advisor to the UN Secretary General told BBC Newshour Wednesday hours after 12 people died in violent attacks around the country.

President Nkurunziza’s decision to run for the controversial third term triggered the bloody conflict, he has since emerged victorious on the ballot box but violence and death toll are increasing day by day.