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Burundi President Urges Police Action as Killings Persist

  • Associated Press

Nine people in Burundi have been killed in gunfights with security forces since Saturday, a police spokesman said, continuing a wave of violence in this central African nation.

Two more bodies were discovered Monday in the capital, Bujumbura, said Pierre Nkurikiye.

More than 130 killings and 90 cases of torture had been documented in Burundi, the U.N. said in September. In many cases the victims appear to have been shot at close range, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said.

Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza on Monday gave civilians five days to surrender any illegal weapons or face tough action by the police, who he said should use all means necessary to stop the bloodshed.

Burundi has been hit by violence since April following Nkurunziza's decision to seek a third term.

The move sparked violent street protests and a failed coup but Nkurunziza won re-election in July.

Targeting people

It appears Nkurunziza's supporters and opponents are targeting each other.

A former intelligence chief who was a staunch ally of Nkurunziza is among the victims, but many of those killed have been ordinary Burundians whose bodies were dumped far from where they lived.

Burundi's security forces also face sporadic attacks on different military outposts, fueling fears of an insurgency.

Military spokesman Colonel Gaspard Baratuza said there had been an attack late Monday against soldiers on patrol in the Kanyosha area. Before fleeing, the attackers fired at the soldiers although no one was hurt, he said Tuesday.

Although the current violence appears to be political, Burundi has a history of deadly conflicts in which the country's Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups targeted each other.

Nkurunziza took power in 2005 near the end of a civil war in which about 300,000 people were killed between 1993 and 2006.