Burundi: missing senior military officials spark talk of defection, imminent attack

Col. Gaspard Baratuza, Burundi Military Spokesman doesn't think the missing officers have defected

Col. Gaspard Baratuza, Burundi Military Spokesman doesn’t think the missing officers have defected

Two senior army officials, including the Deputy Commander of Muha barracks in the capital Bujumbura and the Telecommunication operator in the army, are reportedly missing from the Burundi National Defense Forces (FDN), officials said Monday.

In an interview with Voice of America, Col. Gaspard Baratuza,the Military Spokesman revealed Major Emmanuel Ndayikeza, the deputy commander of Muha barracks, and Colonel Edouard Nshimirimana, the Telecommunication Operator of the country’s military, did not report to duty on Monday.

Colonel Baratuza was hesitant term the duo’s unexplained absence defection yet, a period of eight days has to pass for the officials to be classified as defectors.

There have been reports that Major Ndayikeza might have vanished with his troops but Col. Baratuza denied they saying the commander’s bodyguards showed up to work as usual.

The development comes after another high ranking official in the army was arrested in connection with stashing of weapons and other military equipment at Gihosha area in the capital Bujumbura.

Over the weekend security officials seized guns and ammunitions at a house in the area, the occupant of the house is reportedly to have told authorities Lieutenant-colonel Leonidas Hatungimana aka Muporo entrusted him with the weapons.

The incidents follow a string of grenade and bomb explosions, gunfire and armed attacks on police stations in the capital Bujumbura and surrounding areas.

A group of armed men attacked a police post in Muyira, Kanyosha district Sunday, Pierre Nkurikiye, the police spokesman said unknown gunmen carried out an attack on the station Sunday night killing a police officer and injuring two others.

Nkurikiye says four suspects are in custody as “Police forces track down all other criminals.”
Last week, the same area was a target of mortar bomb shells that hit the upscale neighborhood of Kiriri in Mukaza commune, and Kavumu village in Muyira zone although no victims were reported.

Throughout the course of the current conflict in Burundi, residents have been fearing an impending rebel attack armed rebel attack but the military has dismissed the “enemy rumours aimed at destabilizing the country”