NAIROBI At least 20 dead bodies were observed on the streets of the Burundian capital Bujumbura on Saturday, a police supply said, following the worst outbreak of violence given that a failed coup in May.
Blasts and gunfire echoed about Bujumbura for most of Friday after unknown gunmen attacked three military internet sites, but there was no fighting overnight and witnesses mentioned the capital’s streets were calm on Saturday morning.
The clashes were condemned by the United States, which like other Western powers fears the central African nation could slide back into ethnic conflict.
Unrest in Burundi, which began in April when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced plans for a third term in office, has also unnerved a area that remains volatile two decades soon after the genocide in neighboring Rwanda.
A senior police official in the flashpoint Nyakabiga district said there were 20 young males killed in the neighborhood, and a Reuters witness saw at least 16 bullet-ridden bodies in the same region.
Residents said some of the dead had been rounded up by the police throughout the day following home-to-house searches on Friday, an allegation the police denied.
“They entered in our compounds, gathered all young and middle aged men, took them and killed them away from their properties,” mentioned a single resident in Nyakabiga.
But police spokesman Pierre Nkurikiye stated there have been “no collateral victims” throughout Friday clashes.
“All the deaths had been attackers killed in the joint sweep operation of the army and police,” he mentioned. “The enemy was neutralized.”
A government official stated the police have been collecting bodies across the capital but it was not clear how a lot of individuals had been killed in other districts exactly where fierce fighting also took spot.
Willy Nyamitwe, a presidential advisor, named for Kenya Airways to resume flying to Burundi after the carrier and regional rivals RwandAir and Ethiopian Airlines [ETHA.UK] canceled flights on Friday.
“Today’s flights in and out #Burundi must not be canceled because the roadblocks are removed. Situation came back to regular,” Nyamitwe mentioned on Twitter, addressing Kenya Airways.
Until now, battle lines in Burundi’s crisis have followed the political divide. But Western powers and neighboring countries fear prolonged violence could reopen old ethnic rifts.
Burundi’s 12-year civil war, which ended in 2005, pitted rebel groups of the Hutu majority, like 1 led by Nkurunziza, against what was then an army led by the Tutsi minority. Rwanda has the identical ethnic mix.
One particular of the generals behind the failed coup attempt in Could mentioned in July the rebel group nevertheless aimed to topple the president and authorities have warned that the army, which was restructured following the civil war to incorporate rebel fighters, may well fracture.
(Writing by Drazen Jorgic Editing by Catherine Evans)