Overnight Blasts Rock Burundi Capital Hours Before UN Visit

  • Explosions heard in restive areas of Bujumbura; body found
  • UN Security Council due to begin two-day visit on Thursday

Explosions rocked parts of Burundi’s capital overnight, hours before a United Nations Security Council delegation was due to arrive in an effort to end the East African country’s nine-month political crisis.

Blasts were heard in Bujumbura’s districts of Musaga and Kanyosha, local resident Ndayambaje Samson said by phone. Explosions were also heard from Cibitoke, another part of the city that’s seen sporadic violence. Residents in Jabe, a central neighborhood, showed reporters the handcuffed body of a man they said was found early Thursday.

The UN delegation, led by France, the U.S. and Angola, is scheduled for Thursday and Friday and will show the council’s concern over escalating violence and human-rights abuses, the Associated Press reported this week, citing France’s UN ambassador, Francois Delattre.

Unrest triggered by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s April decision to seek a third term in office has left at least 439 people dead and forced more than 200,000 others to flee the country. Opponents say Nkurunziza’s re-election in July violates the constitution.

Last week, the UN’s rights chief, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, reported cases of alleged sexual violence by security forces in Burundi and called for an urgent investigation into claims of the existence of at least nine mass graves.

The UN team is due to travel to the country’s central Karuzi province on Friday to meet Nkurunziza, Burundi’s national radio reported.

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