US issues Burundi travel warning, cautions citizens to evacuate

Piles of dead young men were discovered Saturday Dec 12 in Bujumbura's opposition strongholds prompting widespread outrage and condemnation

Piles of dead young men were discovered Saturday Dec 12 in Bujumbura’s opposition strongholds prompting widespread outrage and condemnation

In the wake of Saturday’s discovery of about over 80 dead bodies in the Burundian capital Bujumbura, the United States Department of State is warning citizens against traveling to the Central African conflict-blighted nation and those inside the country to evacuated as soon as possible.

The State Department issued a travel advisory Sunday warning families of US diplomats and government officials and non-emergency personnel in Burundi to “leave as soon as it is feasible to do so.”

This advisory comes a day after nearly 100 dead bodies of young men were discovered in trucks, ditches and on the streets of most opposition strongholds in the capital Bujumbura.

The authorities in Bujumbura maintain majority of those killed are assailants who attacked multiple military installations in the capital but residents and eyewitness say the young men were dragged from their homes and killed “execution-style.”

And hundreds of graphic and gruesome images of young men piling on top of each other with arms tied behind their backs, and with gun shot wounds to the head and back, have since circulated on social media corroborating eyewitness claims.

These images have prompted outrage and condemnation on social media many wondering how these massacres could go in 2015 with world leaders watching, and organizations like UN and the African Union (AU) missing in action.

“Where is the United Nations and our African Union?” Etienne Ndayisaba commented one image on Facebook. “This is execution..the fellows hands are tied,” David Koinange noted on another.

Both the UN and US have condemned the mass killings have called for an immediate resumption of dialogue between political players in Burundi in an effort to end the bloodshed.

“The East African Community should immediately convene high-level political dialogue between the government and opposition to defuse the situation. Recent indications from the region suggest no serious remaining barriers to these talks, so there should be no further delay in commencing them,” John Kirby, State Department Spokesman said Friday.

Despite the increasing deaths and fears the country could be sliding back to a civil war, there has been no noticeable sense of urgency to jumpstart the stalled talked between the authorities in Burundi and other players.

Over 300 hundred people have been killed in the 8 month-turmoil triggered by President Pierre Nkurunziza decision to pursue the controversial third term.

Besides US, Belgium, and the European Union have also warned citizens and non-essential staff respectively, to evacuate Burundi or risk being caught up in the violence.

Following Belgium’s advisory to about 500 nationals last month, Bujumbura reacted angrily accusing the former colonial power and current number one development partner of abandoning Burundi. The Burundian government also liked Brussels to the current unrest and rebuked Belgians for sowing ethnic divisions amongst Burundians and committing a genocide in Burundi in 1972.

“We blame them for the 1972 genocide that happened in this country. They are responsible for all the difficulties our country is facing,” Will Nyamitwe, the Communication Advisor to the Presidency said in November adding “Belgium divided Burundians into Hutu and Tutsis. They claim to be a friend of Burundi but their actions are unfriendly.”