Burundi Army Patrols Capital After Worst Violence of Crisisby
Latest bloodshed in Bujumbura left at least 87 people dead
Rights group urges probe amid reports of summary executions
Burundi’s army patrolled the streets of the capital Monday as a rights group demanded a probe into the deaths of 87 people last week, the deadliest violence of the East African nation’s eight-month-old political crisis.
Attacks by unidentified gunmen on barracks in Bujumbura on Dec. 11 and subsequent violence left dozens dead, including eight army officers, military spokesman Colonel Gaspard Baratuza told reporters the following day. The European Union said security forces had carried out summary executions, while New York-based Human Rights Watch urged a “serious, independent investigation.”
The “dramatic worsening of the situation demands a specific reaction,” the EU said Sunday in a statement. It called for the immediate start of talks in Uganda with the support of the African Union.
Landlocked Burundi, which holds 6 percent of the world’s nickel reserves, descended into violence in April when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced he would seek a third term, which he won in July. Critics say he violated a two-term limit spelled out in a 2005 peace accord that ended a 12-year civil war. More than 300 people have been killed in the past eight months.
A Burundian court on Monday began the trial of 28 people, including a former defense minister, accused of plotting a failed coup in May, the British Broadcasting Corp. reported, citing its own correspondent. The accused refused to enter a plea unless their prison conditions are improved, it said.
The U.S. on Sunday warned its citizens against travel to Burundi and ordered the departure of dependents of U.S. government personnel as well as non-emergency staff. Secretary of State John Kerry urged an end to the killing, via Twitter, criticizing a “disproportionate response by security services.”
Special envoys from the United Nations, U.S., EU and African Union discussed regional efforts to resolve Burundi’s crisis in Uganda last week. The five-nation East African Community is organizing the dialogue, with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni appointed to lead negotiations.