Two gunmen killed in Bujumbura ‘rebel’ attack

Weapons seized in the July rebel attack in Northwestern Burundi

Weapons seized in the July rebel attack in Northwestern Burundi

Two gunmen are reported to have been shot dead while three soldiers sustained minor injuries during an armed attack by unknown armed group at a military post in Kiyenzi Zone, Kanyosha Commune, Bujumbura rural, army officials say.

According to residents of Kiyenzi, heavily armed men attacked the post Tuesday evening and heavy gunfire and bomb explosions ensued, forcing many to flee their households to remote hills overlooking the capital Bujumbura. At the end of the fight two unidentified attackers had been killed.

“It was around 18h30 (6:30), I was listening to BBC when I heard a lot of heavy gunshots and bomb explosions not far from my home. There were gunfire exchange between attackers and soldiers, I ran away,” a resident of Kiyenzi who spent the the night at Buhonga Parish.

Eye witnesses say the fighting continued throughout the night but Colonel Gaspard Baratuza, the Burundi army spokesman told the press the attack lasted for about half an hour.

“The population always exaggerates the facts. These are adventurers who tried to attack the post for a few minutes,” Col. Baratuza said in a press conference Wednesday.

Baratuza, who said the identities of the attackers are unknown reassured the general public that there is no rebel force fighting in Burundi, but instead a small armed group that was easily repelled.

“We don’t know them. They haven’t yet declared who they are or who sent them. We know that through modern means of communication there might be some claiming responsibility, but we can’t say it’s a rebel attack, no,” he stressed

Motives of the attack remain unknown too although residents have claimed soldiers stationed at the post that was attacked have been harassing them since they were deployed in the area, two weeks ago.

They allege that some might be non-military men, some saying they know members of the infamous ruling party CNDD-FDD militia Imbonerakure who are part of the troops at the post.

The army spokesman categorically dismissed the allegations as groundless saying “The Burundian army is well organized, with a well-respected hierarchy in such a way that no foreign person can intrude it and remain unidentified.”

Throughout the current conflict, Bujumbura residents have reported hearing gunfire and grenade explosions almost on a daily basis. But, the areas of Bujumbura rural overlooking the capital had remained largely peaceful until Tuesday.

Tuesday’s incident is the first of its kind in the area.

In July, a rebel attack was reported in the north-western provinces of Kayanza and Cibitoke where about a hundred combatants were reportedly killed and more than two hundred captured in a fight that lasted for several days. No captives have been reported in this latest attack.