Burundi police battle hundreds of students camping at US Embassy

Police confiscates the students' belongings

Police confiscates students’ belongings

Burundi Police has attempted to use force in dislodging more than 100 university students who have been camping at a building site adjacent to the U.S. Embassy in Bujumbura since the current crisis began in April.

It was around noon local time this Thursday when the Burundian police forced their way into the complex sheltering nearly 600 students who are there for safety reasons.

On Wednesday police had issued a 24-hour ultimatum to the students to vacate the premises in vain.

Students rejected the call and police decided use force on them, a move that proved fruitless because the students managed to climb over the walls of the US Embassy fence to take refuge inside its compound.

About 100 students are still in the Embassy’s parking lot. Four students have sustained minor injuries according to the US embassy, which calls upon the government to find a peaceful resolution to the situation.

During the operation, the police and students did not confront physically. No gunfire or tear gas used as police did not resort to violence, though students watched helplessly police demolishing their makeshift shelters.

Following the breakout of anti-third term bid protests in Bujumbura and in other  parts of the country in April, university students were ordered to leave all campuses over claims of lack of security, as underground information said they were accused of taking part into the demonstrations.

Some of them, unable to abruptly go home due to lack of means, preferred to seek refuge to the US Embassy in Bujumbura. They have spent about two months sleeping in the vicinities of the Embassy.

As the government had officially asked all students to return to campuses by June 6, a small number has responded to the call, as majority of the students are still concerned about their safety.  Two days ago, the university leadership announced to have registered only around 600 out of 12 thousand.

Meanwhile, protests have calmed down in Bujumbura but the capital has been rocked by daily grenade attacks. Just today, three people were killed by a series of attacks and nearly a dozen sustained injuries.

Another grenade was defused by police IN Musaga area, south of Bujumbura; residents say unidentified men planted this bomb which did not cause any human or material damage.