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Burundi Police Accused of Killing Civilians During Raid

Bujumbura, Burundi

Burundian officials say 10 people were killed Tuesday - including a journalist, his family and one policeman - during an attempt to rescue kidnapped police officers in the capital, Bujumbura.

Burundian police spokesman Pierre Nkurikiye said police launched a rescue operation after gunmen abducted three officers on patrol in the Ngagara neighborhood of northern Bujumbura.

“During shooting, criminals used some houses occupied by some families," said Nkurikiye. "Some members have been killed during shooting between the criminals and national police members.”

Among the nine civilians killed was a cameraman working for state-run television. His wife and two children also were among the dead.

Police contend it was the criminals' bullets that killed the family during crossfire.

Killings condemned

The head of the Reporters Without Borders Africa desk, Clea Kahn-Sriber, condemned the killing.

“It seems to be that the police were conducting a raid in the neighborhood, and they broke down the door of this journalist and killed him, his wife and two children in a completely arbitrary way,” said Kahn-Sriber.

Witnesses and officials say some residential areas believed to be anti-government in central Bujumbura have seen multiple disarmament raids.

Last month, the U.S. State Department called on Burundi's government to disarm all militias, including the ruling party's youth wing, the Imbonerakure, to prevent a further escalation of violence.

Some residents accuse the government of taking revenge against them for demanding that President Pierre Nkurunziza not run for a third term.

Nkurunziza was re-elected in July, but only after a wave of protests. His opponents said he was violating term limits in the constitution, as well as key pieces in the peace deal that ended Burundi's civil war.