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UN Chief Sounds Alarm Over Burundi Violence


FILE - Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza is sworn in for a third term at a ceremony in the parliament in Bujumbura, Aug. 20, 2015.

FILE - Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza is sworn in for a third term at a ceremony in the parliament in Bujumbura, Aug. 20, 2015.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says he is alarmed by an escalation of violence in Burundi and condemned Friday's killing of the son of a prominent human rights activist.

In a statement Friday, Ban said "in recent weeks the discovery of the bodies of civilian victims, many apparently summarily executed, has become a regular occurrence in several neighborhoods of Bujumbura."

The latest victim is the son of rights activists Pierre Claver Mbonimpa, who was killed a few hours after his arrest in the capital, Bujumbura. He is the second family member of Mbonimpa killed in recent weeks.

Ban also condemned "public statements that appear aimed at inciting violence or hatred towards different groups in Burundian society. Inflammatory rhetoric is reprehensible and dangerous; it will only serve to aggravate the situation in the country."

Separately, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, said "any person in Burundi who incites or engages in acts of mass violence including by ordering, requesting, encouraging or contributing in any other manner to the commission of crimes falling within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court is liable to prosecution before this Court."

Burundi is experiencing a wave of killings following President Pierre Nkurunziza's re-election for a controversial third term.

International alarm has grown over a five-day ultimatum issued Monday by President Nkurunziza for Burundians to hand over any weapons they have or risk becoming "enemies of the nation." Hundreds of Burundians could be seen leaving the capital in recent days, saying they fear what will happen after Saturday's deadline.

U.S. Ambassador to the Untied Nations Samantha Power said Thursday she was extremely concerned the weapons ultimatum could "trigger widespread violence" in Burundi, which emerged from a civil war a decade ago.

The U.N. Security Council is due to hold a special meeting on Monday to discuss the escalating violence and inflammatory speech.

The decision by President Nkurunziza to run for a third term sparked anger from many Burundians who said he was violating the constitution and the Arusha Accord that ended the country's 13-year civil war.

Clashes between police and protesters and fear of more unrest has prompted nearly 200,000 Burundians to flee the country, with most going to Tanzania or Rwanda.

Last week, U.S. President Barack Obama says he plans to remove Burundi from the U.S. trade preference program known as the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) because of the worsening crackdown on the political opposition there. In a letter to Congress, President Obama said the violence against Burundi's opposition includes "assassinations, extra-judicial killings, arbitrary arrests and torture."

Also last month, the European Union imposed sanctions on four Burundians it says undermined efforts to peacefully resolve the country's political crisis.

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