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Burundi Violence Continues Despite New Government - 2001-11-05

At least four more soldiers in Burundi have died in fighting since Saturday, despite a new transitional government that was installed last week in an effort to end the violence.

Hopes for peace were raised last week with the installation of a new transitional government. But the latest fighting shows that Burundi's eight-year civil war is far from over.

Rebels from the Hutu majority have been fighting the country's Tutsi-dominated army.

Military sources say an army officer was killed Monday, following a rebel attack on Rutovu, some 140 kilometers south of the capital, Bujumbura. Fighting there started Sunday, when rebels burned down the local government office.

Local radio reports said that three soldiers were killed and two wounded on Saturday in an attack in the hills of Bujumbura Rurale, overlooking the capital.

In another incident Saturday, a minibus traveling from the Democratic Republic of Congo to Bujumbura was attacked by rebels. Local radio reported the passengers escaped unharmed.

The two main Hutu rebel groups have yet to agree to a cease-fire. President Pierre Buyoya says that is a priority for his new government. Analysts say the credibility and survival of his government depend on it.

In Burundi last Thursday, chief mediator Nelson Mandela announced that the rebels had agreed to start negotiating with the government. South African Vice President Jacob Zuma and Gabonese President Omar Bongo have been appointed as mediators.

Up to 250,000 people, mostly civilians, have died since Burundi's civil war began in 1993.