15 killed in attacks on military bases in Burundi

Bystanders at the scene of one of the attacks in  Bujumbura. Picture: AP
Bystanders at the scene of one of the attacks in Bujumbura. Picture: AP
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Attackers have stormed three military camps in Burundi’s capital, with 15 people reported killed in the ensuing firefights as gunfire and explosions rocked Bujumbura.

Troops said 12 attackers and three soldiers were killed in the assaults while 20 attackers were reportedly captured, while five soldiers were wounded.

The sounds of battle continued past daybreak, with residents staying indoors and only military and police vehicles seen patrolling the city centre.

Roadblocks have been set up in that part of the city, residents said.

Military spokesman Colonel Gaspard Baratuza said the assailants’ goal was to steal weapons and use them to free prisoners.

A senior officer said: “After more than two hours of clashes, the army repulsed the southern attack, while virtually all the attackers were killed in Ngagara base.

“There are dozens of deaths among the attackers and we also have losses.”

Willy Nyamitwe, a presidential media adviser, using a term to describe political opponents, tweeted: “Situation is returning to normal as firearms are seized, many Sindumuja assailants killed or arrested.”

Several hundred people have been imprisoned in Burundi for opposing president Pierre Nkurunziza’s election this year to a third term.

Many Burundians and foreign observers had opposed his re-election for a third time as unconstitutional and in violation of peace accords that ended a civil war in which 300,000 people were killed between 1993 and 2006. The constitutional court ruled in favour of Mr Nkurunziza, who has said he was entitled to another term because for his first term he was elected by parliament and not by popular mandate.

The deputy president of the Constitutional Court fled to exile in Rwanda before the ruling and said the court had been coerced to rule in favour of the president.

Mr Nkurunziza’s push for a third term has triggered months of violence, including a coup attempt. At least 240 people have been killed since April and about 215,000 have fled to neighbouring countries, according to the UN. At least seven people were killed this week by men wearing police uniforms. Opponents and supporters of the government have been killed in apparent revenge attacks.

Burundi has a history of deadly conflicts between Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups.