Burundi rebels claim responsibility of colonel’s killing, warn of similar attacks

ASSASSINATED: Lt. Col. Darius Ikurakure

Lt. Col. Darius Ikurakure was assassinated last Tuesday in the Burundian capital Bujumbura.

A rebel outfit in Burundi, Republic Forces of Burundi (FOREBU) has claimed responsibility of the killing of a high ranking military commander last week, and warned the government and the public that more targeted assassinations are in the pipeline.

A twitter account belonging to FOREBU announced Saturday, the force had ordered Tuesday’s killing of Lt. Col. Darius Ikurakure, who was gunned down by an unidentified man in military uniform at the headquarters of Burundi’s ministry of defense in the capital Bujumbura.

“We promised the people to defend them. We are at work. We will not stop until the mission is accomplished,” FOREBU revealed via Twitter adding that “those who took that oath are behind the operation against Lt Col D. Ikurakure. You’ll see them again soon. For, it is just the beginning.”

FOREBU group was unveiled last December self proclaimed rebels against President Pierre Nkurunziza’s government. At the time they announced their main objective was to topple President Nkurunziza. Sources say this group is led by Maj. General Godefroid Niyombare, and fellow renegade generals who led the May 2015 failed coup against Nkurunziza.

The nascent force’s other stated objective is to protect civilian population and the uphold the country’s Arusha Peace Accord, the year 2000 deal that led to the long and deadly civil war.

“Our goal is to drive out Nkurunziza by force to restore the Arusha accord and democracy,” Col. Edward Nshimirimana told AFP in December. Nshimirimana used to serve in the Burundian military.

Tuesday’s high profile assassination was the latest in a string of politically and ethnically motivated targeted killings involving top military officers that have  been taking place in Bujumbura throughout the year-long conflict.

The turmoil has killed over 500 people and thousands more have fled to neighbouring countries as refugees. Efforts by regional leaders and the international community to forge serious dialogue between the government and its opponents have stalled. Benjamin Mkapa, is the current facilitator in the failed talks to end the deadly violence in Burundi but the daily rise in the death toll has prompted widespread fears that the tiny impoverished East African state is tilting toward a full scale civil war or genocide.

The government in Bujumbura has repeatedly dismissed the “genocide narrative” saying it is perpetuated by the enemies of Burundi who are hell bent on overthrowing democratically elected institutions.