Eight killed in Bujumbura as violence spreads to the countryside

Suspected gunmen killed by the police in Bujumbura's opposition strong hold of Cibitoke.

Suspected gunmen killed by the police in Bujumbura’s opposition strong hold of Cibitoke, residents say these people were picked up from their homes and executed.

At least eight people including two police officers were killed in violent attacks in different parts of the capital Bujumbura Tuesday night through Wednesday morning.

Speaking to the national broadcaster (RTNB), Pierre Nkurikiye the police spokesman, said a group of armed men threw three grenades at a police patrol car in Cibitoke neighborhood around 8 am Wednesday prompting police to shoot and kill five of the assailants, including two young men, but eye-witnesses say the police picked up the victims from their homes and executed them.

This bloody and deadly incident was preceded by another Tuesday night in the opposition strongholds of Cibitoke and Mutakura, whereby two policemen were attacked by unidentified gunmen using grenades. One police officer who had sustained serious injuries in the attack died Wednesday evening.

The Bujumbura City Mayor’s office located was also attacked by unidentified armed men Tuesday night, killing a police officer and injuring a civilian. Police sources indicate the assailants torched several administrative documents.

Grenade explosions and gunshots were also heard in Jabe and Musaga areas in the Burundian capital Bujumbura but no victims or damages were reported by press time.

These deadly incidents have become routine in the capital moreover as the government maintains it is making progress in disarming the “wrong elements.”

The police announced Wednesday they had seized a vehicle full of weapons, drugs and several UNHCR  license plates at a Saga beach on the shores of Lake Tanganyika.

According to Moïse Nkurunziza, Assistant Police Spokesman, security forces were tipped off by the area residents who had noticed the unattended weaponry.

He said police managed to seize various weapons and ammunitions, including 30 full magazines, two Motorola, one bomb. Five shot machine guns (AK 47) were also confiscated in Cibitoke at 15th Avenue, near the scene of Wednesday’s attacks.

Elsewhere, attacks were also reported in Burambi district in the newly created south-western province of Rumonge. Police say they killed two of the assailants and captured the other four, and weapons.

Many observers have warned Burundi is on the brink of a catastrophic civil war if polical actors do not resume talks and salvage the situation.

Adama Dieng, Special Advisor to the UN Secretary General says if the players do not resume dialogue as soon as possible a civil war is imminent.

“If we don’t act , there is a risk that this increasing violence could lead to a civil war, so it is the right time for all the Burundian actors to sit together and stop this violence,” he told BBC Newshour Wednesday.

Over 300 people have lost their lives in the crisis that began in April after the ruling CNDD-FDD nominated President Pierre Nkurunziza to run for the third term.

He has since won the controversial bid but violence and deaths have been on the upsurge. Last week, the President of the United Nations Security Council for the month of December, Samantha Power, US Ambassador at the UN said the council is pondering a visit to the conflict-wrecked nation.