Burundi: US condemns attempt on military chief’s life, Nkurunziza calls for unity

NARROW ESCAPE: Gen. Niyongabo narrowly survived assassination Friday morning

NARROW ESCAPE: Gen. Niyongabo narrowly survived assassination Friday morning

The United States is condemning the assassination attempt on the Burundian army chief of staff General Prime Niyongabo Friday morning that left several people dead including his bodyguards.

“The United States condemns the violent attack on Burundian Chief of Defense General Prime Niyongabo on Friday. While the apparent assassination attempt failed, we note that several people were killed,” John Kirby, State Department Spokesperson said in a press briefing Friday.

Kirby went on to call Burundian leaders to resume dialogue as it is the only viable way to achieve their political objectives.

He noted “as we’ve said many times before, Burundi must step back from the path of violence. The only credible route to stability is a regionally mediated and inclusive dialogue that leads to consensus on a peaceful way forward according to the Arusha Agreement.”

General Niyongabo narrowly escaped assassination Friday morning as an rocket ambush claimed three of his bodygurads and injured six. In the intense gunfight that followed the surprise attack, two suspected gunmen were shot dead.

Niyongabo’s attempted assassination follow’s the assassination of General Adolphe Nhsimirimana, former head of Internal Security, and that of the former army chief of staff Col. Jean Bikomagu.

What started as a massive protest against President Pierre Nkurunziza’s controversial third term has lately turned into ethnic tinged  killings targeting prominent politicians and military personnel, sources say.

Uganda-mediated talks to end the 5 month conflict are yet to resume, they were suspended on the eve of the July 21 presidential poll.

Meanwhile, in wake of Friday’s attack President Nkurunziza has urged the country’s military to stay united and not fall in the enemy’s trap by turning against each other.

“Such an attack has an objective of creating chaos within security forces,”  Louis Kamwenubusa, Nkurunziza’s deputy spokesman said reading the president’s statement Friday evening adding “the head of state asks members of those corps to stay calm and united in a bid to avoid falling in the trap of the enemy.”