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HRW Urges Burundi to End Police Torture

Human Rights Watch is calling on the government of Burundi to end police torture of civilians.

The U.S.-based rights group says in a report issued Wednesday that it has documented 21 cases of beatings and torture carried out last October by special security forces.

The group says many of the victims described being beaten with clubs, subjected to mock executions, and forced to pay bribes in exchange for their freedom.

The report says the alleged abuse took place in Burundi's Muramvya province, located east of the capital, Bujumbura.

Special forces were dispatched to the area to address an increase in armed banditry and stop alleged recruitment by the rebel Forces of National Liberation.

Human Rights Watch says the Burundi police force is made up of poorly trained officers from former government police, soldiers and combatants from several armed groups.

The rights group is calling on the government to prosecute officers accused of committing crimes, as well as ensure that officers receive appropriate and sufficient training.

Burundi is trying to emerge from a 13-year civil war that killed more than 250,000 people. The Forces of National Liberation - the country's last rebel group - signed a peace agreement with the government in July 2006, but the accord broke down a year later.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.