BUJUMBURA, Burundi (AP) — Two security officers who defected were killed in a gunfight with military forces in Burundi's capital, police said Wednesday.
Army Capt. Idi Omar Bahenda and police Brig. Jean Claude Niyongabo were killed Wednesday in the Kiyenzi area of Bujumbura, said police spokesman Pierre Nkurikiye. Bahenda was wanted for recruiting rebels opposed to the government, he said.
The men, along with another renegade policeman who is now in custody, were traveling in a car in which police found explosives, a rocket-propelled grenade and a rifle, he said. The suspects tried to flee into a nearby bush but were chased by the security forces and local people, said the spokesman.
President Pierre Nkurunziza's decision to seek re-election last year has left Burundi on the brink of civil war. Bujumbura has been hit by violence as opponents and supporters of Nkurunziza target each other in gun, rocket and grenade attacks. There has been a wave of extrajudicial killings that human rights activists blame on the security forces.
In December a senior military officer announced that he had formed a rebel group that aims to oust Nkurunziza.
The violence started in April 2015 and boiled over into a failed coup attempt by some senior military officers. On Thursday, a verdict is expected in the trial of some of the alleged coup plotters.