Over 70 police officers have died in the Burundian turmoil, says police spokesman

Pierre Nkurikiye, Burundi Police Spokesman

Pierre Nkurikiye, Burundi Police Spokesman

The one year long conflict in Burundi has claimed lives of 77 police officers, Pierre Nkurikiye, the Police Spokesman told the media this Tuesday in the capital Bujumbura.

Nkurikiye also revealed that 59 police officers are being held for a number of offenses and another 38 has been expelled from the force.

The police spokesman further said 374 civilians have perished in the political crisis that was sparked off by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to run for the controversial third term in April last year.

The 374 civilian death toll is far lower than the figure put forth by various media reports and rights agencies, about 500 people are believed to have lost their lives in the deadly conflict that has destabilized the tiny East African nation for more than 12 months now.

The police together with the military in Burundi have been accused of blatant human rights violations and arbitrary killings by ordinary Burundians and local and international rights groups. The United States and the European Union have also sanctioned a number of officers alleging they have participated in torture and other human rights abuses.

Despite efforts by the African Union, United Nations, US and EU and other partners in the region, mediation efforts to forge dialogue are yet to bear fruit.