Burundi’s army says 79 “enemies” and eight soldiers have been killed for the duration of the bloodiest day in months of unrest, which left the streets of the capital Bujumbura strewn with bodies, several bearing gunshot wounds.
The bloodshed in the East African nation started with coordinated attacks by unidentified gunmen on 3 military installations on Friday, which triggered a fierce riposte from the safety forces.
Several witnesses described the police and army going door-to-door in opposition strongholds in Bujumbura, dragging out young males and executing them.
Army spokesman Colonel Gaspard Baratuza said all these killed were either “enemies” of the state, soldiers or policemen.
“The final toll of the attacks is 79 enemies killed, 45 captured and 97 weapons seized, and on our side eight soldiers and policemen had been killed and 21 wounded,” Colonel Baratuza stated.
The army had initially provided a considerably reduce toll right after the assault on two military bases and a military training college, saying that 12 rebel gunmen had been killed and 21 captured in the attacks.
But on Saturday morning horrified residents of distinct neighbourhoods awoke to locate at least 39 bodies scattered in the streets.
“Fighting continued into the evening and the corpses identified in these neighbourhoods this morning are enemies,” Colonel Baratuza declared.
Several witnesses accused the safety forces of extrajudicial killings, describing officers breaking down doors in search of young males and shooting them at close range.
Some of the victims had their arms tied behind their backs, they mentioned.
The army spokesman declined to comment on the details of the fighting and deaths.
One particular witness in Nyakabiga, a hotspot of anti-government protest in current months, described the victims as “little ones” and mentioned they had been shot execution-style “via the prime of the skull”.
A resident of Musaga, close to the military college that was amongst the web sites attacked on Friday, mentioned there had been far more than a dozen corpses in the streets.
“I have counted 14 dead bodies with my own eyes,” he stated, blaming “soldiers and police” for the killings.
But government supporters have been in triumphant mood, holding marches in Bujumbura and other towns beneath police protection to celebrate what they described as “the victory of our valiant army over the enemy”.
Bodies buried in mass graves
The government collected bodies from the streets of Bujumbura on Saturday, with sources saying they were swiftly buried in mass graves in the afternoon “to avoid the spread of disease”.
But some residents mentioned they suspected the authorities of trying to hide proof of a massacre perpetrated by the security forces, a view echoed by a European diplomat.
“There are dozens of bodies, but the authorities are attempting to make them disappear,” the diplomat said.
He spoke of “dozens of bodies in other protest districts, such as Mutakura and Cibitoke” on prime of those in Nyakabiga.
The fighting was the worst outbreak of violence because a failed coup in May possibly, sparked by president Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term in office, which he later won in disputed elections in July.
The United Nations Security Council met on Friday following a request from France, with UN chief Ban Ki-moon saying the attacks risked triggering “a additional destabilisation of the circumstance” and urging all sides to hold back, according to his spokesman.
Attacks targeting the safety forces have escalated, with rebels armed with assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars attacking police convoys and targeting government installations.
The violence raised fears of a return to civil war, a decade soon after the end of a 1993-2006 conflict in between rebels from the Hutu majority and an army dominated by minority Tutsis.
An estimated 300,000 folks were killed in the war, which began a year prior to a genocide of mainly Tutsis in neighbouring Rwanda.
The Safety Council mentioned that sending UN peacekeepers to the nation remained an option, and stressed the require for urgent political dialogue.
Topics: unrest-conflict-and-war, globe-politics, burundi