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UN Weighs Sending Peacekeepers into Burundi


FILE - Burundi police patrol the streets in the capital Bujumbura after the results of the presidential elections were released, July 24, 2015.

The United Nations may send peacekeepers into Burundi if calm does not return to the East African nation soon, diplomats in New York said Wednesday.

One option is sending in soldiers from neighboring Congo.

"The Security Council has come together in the course of this week to ensure we do everything possible to increase the pressure on the authorities in Bujumbura and warn against the dangers of mass atrocities," British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said Wednesday.

The African Union also could intervene in Burundi with a peacekeeping force.

Burundian officials, however, say the country is "not in flames," and there is no chance of mass murder.

Violence exploded in Burundi in April when President Pierre Nkurunziza said he was running for a third term — a move the opposition called unconstitutional. Nkurunziza was re-elected in July in a vote the opposition boycotted.

Election-related violence has killed at least 240 people and sent tens of thousands fleeing for their lives across the border.

The United States, European Union and Burundi's African neighbors fear the violence could result in another civil war between Tutsis and Hutus — the same type of fighting that brought on the genocide of Tutsis and moderate Hutus in Rwanda in 1994.

The White House said President Barack Obama spoke of his "deep concern" about the situation in Burundi to South African President Jacob Zuma on Wednesday.

Obama asked Zuma to keep working with others in the region to call for calm and push for talks to end the crisis.