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Burundi Suspends Cooperation With UN Human Rights Office

FILE - Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza arrives for a CNDD-FDD party congress in Gitega province, Burundi, Aug. 20, 2016. It was his decision to seek a third term that sparked violence in the nation last year.

Burundi suspended its cooperation with a U.N. human rights office Tuesday, a government spokesman said, amid a deepening row between the government and the U.N. on political violence in Burundi.

"Due to the complicity played by the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights in the production of a wrong and controversial report, issued by the so-called independent U.N. investigators, the government of Burundi decided to suspend any cooperation and collaboration with the office," the statement from spokesman Philippe Nzobonariba said.

The Burundi government was infuriated when the U.N. released a report last month identifying government officials suspected of ordering political opposition to be tortured or killed.

The Hague-based International Criminal Court said in April that at least 450 people were killed and hundreds of thousands forced to flee fled after clashes broke out following President Pierre Nkurunziza's decision to seek a third term in office last year.

Opponents said the move violated the constitution and a peace agreement that ended a civil war in 2005. The president cited a court ruling saying he could run again, and he won an election boycotted by most opposition parties.

Low-level violence continues, and three people were killed in an attack on a bar Monday night in the southern province of Rumonge, Nzobonariba told state radio Tuesday. The victims included a school principal who was a local official and a member of the ruling party.

On Monday, Burundi banned three U.N. human rights investigators linked to the report from its territory. Burundi has also rejected a U.N. decision to set up a commission of inquiry to probe the violence and announced plans to withdraw from the International Criminal Court.