Burundi death toll soars, Tanzania backs AU troop deployment

Good Samaritans attending to one of the people injured in clashes at Musaga

Good Samaritans attending to one of the people injured in clashes at Musaga

Three people have been reportedly killed in the violence that rocked several areas of Burundi capital Bujumbura Saturday night through Sunday morning.

According to Pierre Nkurikiye, the police spokesman, Alfred Baramburiye, a young cameraman was killed in Nyakabiga during gunfire exchange between security forces and suspected gunmen who had aimed a grenade at a local police post injuring two police officers.

In the neighboring Jabe neighborhood, three grenades exploded Saturday evening but no damages were reported, the police says. Nkurikiye revealed a gunfire exchange ensued. A dead body of unidentified man was then found Sunday morning in the locality but Mr. Nkurikiye said the victim might have been killed by a stray bullet during the crossfire.

The third person was killed in the southern zone of Musaga Sunday morning in a police operation pursuing “criminals that had kidnapped a man from Kamesa” Saturday night.

Grenade explosions and gun shots were also heard in the northern neighbourhood of Cibitoke Saturday night. Pierre Nkurikiye stated that three grenades targeted a military post in the area causing no victims or damages.

As the death toll continues to rise in the country, especially in the capital Bujumbura, no consensus has been reached over the deployment of UA forces to protect civilians in the troubled central African nation. The Government of Burundi has vowed to combat any forces that would be sent to the country. Meanwhile, the African Union still maintains the relevance of sending peacekeepers, notwithstanding government opposition.

Meanwhile, Tanzania has become the first East African Community country to publicly back the AU proposal to send 5,000 troops to Burundi.

In a meeting with the African Union Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in Durban, South Africa, on Tuesday January 5, 2016, to discuss the prevailing situation in Burundi, the Tanzanian Foreign Minister Augustine Mahiga, agreed with her that the peacekeeping mission was essential for the protection of civilians.

They both expressed deep concern about the deteriorating political, security, and humanitarian situation in Burundi and the spillover effects that are likely to hit the entire region. The duo urging “the Government of Burundi to fully cooperate with the AU towards the early deployment of MAPROBU (AU Peacekeepers)”.

Addressing the Burundian government concerns that AU forces might have some hidden agenda of destabilizing the country, Ms Zuma, and Tanzanian Foreign Minister Mahiga “underlined that MAPROBU has no other objective than to assist the Burundians overcome the challenges confronting them, in the spirit of continental solidarity and the search for African solutions to African problems, consistent with the relevant AU instruments”.

The AU Peace and Security Council resolved in mid-December to send 5,000 troops to Burundi. AU’s move was triggered by the discovery of about 87 dead bodies in Bujumbura after armed groups raided four military installations in the capital last month.

President Pierre Nkurunziza has threatened to attack AU peacekeepers if the continental body disregards Bujumbura’s disapprovals and deploys the troops.

The turmoil has claimed over 400 people thus far and forced thousand to regional countries as refugees.