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Refugees Flee Burundi Fighting

The U.N. refugee agency says fighting between government and rebel forces in Burundi has sent hundreds of people fleeing into neighboring Tanzania. The agency says at least 1,600 Burundians have arrived in Tanzania since the beginning of September.

The U.N. refugee agency says most of the refugees are fleeing from the provinces of Ruyigi and Rutana in eastern Burundi and in Gitega, central Burundi. Agency officials say many of the people are fleeing as a direct result of attacks on their villages, while others are running away because they have heard reports of attacks.

UNHCR spokeswoman Millicent Mutuli says some of the refugees who have arrived in Tanzania report they have been victims of reprisal from both the Burundi military and rebels.

"If they do not support the rebels, then there are reprisals for the lack of support," Ms. Mutuli said. "If they do support them, there are reprisals from the military for having supported them. So they are really caught between a rock and a hard place. Many of them have lost their homes. They say villages are set on fire. Some of them are taken to act as porters for the military."

The human rights organization Amnesty International recently published a report in which it accuses both the government and rebels of human rights abuses.

A senior press officer for Amnesty, Kamal Samari, says 200 people were killed in a massacre earlier this month in Itabi province, but the government delayed even acknowledging that it took place. Mr. Samari says Amnesty wants the government to investigate this latest massacre and bring those responsible to justice.