Burundi Students Face Crackdown After President Photos Defaced

Burundi security officers fired gunshots and teargas, injuring at least three people, as students in a central province protested the arrest of their colleagues accused of defacing photos of President Pierre Nkurunziza.

Security forces arrested at least 18 people on Friday near the main secondary school in Muramvya town, about 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) east of the capital, Bujumbura, according to Radio Isanganiro, a local independent broadcaster that cited education officials it didn’t identify.

Police spokesman Pierre Nkurikiye said by phone that the school’s students had been trying to march on the town’s prosecution office to protest Thursday’s arrest of eight of their colleagues accused of ruining photos of Nkurunziza in their textbooks. Security forces shot in the air to disperse them, injuring two students and another person, while eight were arrested, he said.

About 300 students at a school in Bujumbura were suspended on Thursday, also accused of defacing images of the East African nation’s president, Isanganiro reported. Landlocked Burundi has been rocked by unrest that’s left more than 470 people dead since April 2015, when Nkurunziza decided to stand for re-election, a move his opponents said was unconstitutional.

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