Burundi: grenade explosions and heavy gunfire kill eight in Bujumbura

Pierre Nkurikiye, Burundi Police Spokesman

Pierre Nkurikiye, Burundi Police Spokesman

Residents of Mutakura and Cibitoke in the northern commune of Ntahangwa of the capital Bujumbura had a horrific weekend as heavy gunfire and grenade explosions rocked the area Saturday night into early Sunday morning killing 8 people.

Eye-witnesses and residents of Cibitoke woke up in fear to find 6 dead bodies just in one place.

“We heard a lot of grenade explosions and gunshots. They even shot at people inside their homes. We started hearing them around 11 pm they continued throughout the night,” said Vivine Ndayisaba, a resident of Cibitoke.

“It is difficult to describe what I heard on Saturday, it was terrible,” Edwin Kabura, another resident of the area told Afrika Reporter.

Kabura expressed concerns some armed criminals might be hiding but pleads with the country’s police to use caution and their expertise to identify these elements and retrieve weapons from them and spare innocent people.

“It happens sometimes that some criminals hide themselves among us and shoot at security forces. But I would like to urge policemen to utilize other means, modern ones, so as to detect those weapons where they are hidden without harming innocent people,” he says.

Pierre Nkurikiye, the police spokesperson said the police was targeted as they conducted their routine operations.

Speaking to the press Sunday afternoon, the police spokesman said there were gunfire exchange between armed criminals and police who were welcomed by grenades as they were conducting their usual duties.

“During the day, criminals threw more than 20 grenades at our officers, they continued in the night by throwing 15 more grenades to them, injuring four of our personnel,” Nkurikiye told the press.

He says as long as there are reported weapons in the hands of civilians, security forces will not relent until they withdraw all arms from the wrong hands.

He reveled investigations into the loss of life are already underway.

Bujumbura is still under the strains of continuous insecurity thanks to routine gunfire and grenade explosions.

Recently the government announced a decree granting amnesty to those possessing illegal arms willing to hand them over to the authorities in an effort to encourage the public to report weapons.

Subsequently, Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza has given a one-month deadline for whoever has illegal weapons in their possession to surrender them or face stern consequences.