Burundian top military official shot dead

ASSASSINATED: Lt. Col. Darius Ikurakure

ASSASSINATED: Lt. Col. Darius Ikurakure

A high ranking army officer in the Burundian military was killed Tuesday in the capital Bujumbura by an unidentified assailant, the country’s military has confirmed.

According to the Burundian military, Lt. Col. Darius Ikurakure was gunned down by a man in military uniform at the Defense Ministry and Army headquarters in Bujumbura.

In a press statement Tuesday evening, the Assistant Military spokesman Clement Cimana quoted the army chief of staff saying “This incident took place as members of Staff and Defense Ministry

had left for their lunch break. The killer immediately vanished and left his used gun at the scene, and the military followed him but in vain.”

The army officials condemned the attack and other similar attacks, urging the military to remain serene and reject whatever might intend to divide them “with the aim of destroying the Burundian army.”

Lt-Colonel Darius Ikurakure was the commander of Muzinda barracks, a military installation near the capital Bujumbura. He was a close ally of President Pierre Nkurunziza. The fallen commander is believed to have played a key role and suppressing the May 2015 attempted coup against the Burundian leader.

Residents of Bujumbura also say the deceased officer was infamous for cracking down on protestors against President Nkurunziza’s third term last year.

The motive for the deadly attack is still under investigation but reports circulating on social media allege it was ethnically motivated.

This attack is the latest of its kind since the current conflict began last year.

Following the May 13 2015 attempted coup against President Nkurunziza, Lt-General Adolphe Nshimirimana, former Intelligence Chief and a close ally of the president  was killed by a group of unidentified gunmen in the capital Bujumbura.

Also in November last year, the chief of staff of Burundi’s military escaped a military-style ambush by an unidentified armed group.

Further still, on December 11, 2015, four military installations in the capital Bujumbura

were simultaneously attacked, and in the wake of these attacks, nearly 90 dead bodies of young men were discovered scattered across Bujumbura’s opposition strongholds.

All these incidents have led many to believe there are divisions within the county’s military but the force maintains there should be no cause for alarm.