Gunmen kill two in Burundi as marchers rally against Rwanda

Reuters News
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Posted: Feb 13, 2016 8:32 AM

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Unidentified gunmen shot dead two people in an apparent targeted killing late on Friday in Burundi, where months of violence linked to the president's disputed re-election have left more than 400 people dead.

The central African nation has been in turmoil since April 2015 when President Pierre Nkurunziza vowed to run for a third term, sparking protests by the opposition who said his bid was unconstitutional.

His government foiled a coup in May and won re-election in July, but the poll was disputed and clashes and gun attacks have continued.

Celestin Singirankabo, the regional administrator of Gisozi commune in Mwaro province some 60 km (37 miles) east of the capital, Bujumbura, said one of the people killed on Friday was a village administrator.

"Five people came around 9.30 p.m. and called the elected administrator by name and ordered him out of his house. They shot at him and he died," he told Reuters by phone on Saturday.

"After that they moved to another nearby house and also shot another person," he said, adding that three of the unidentified gunmen wore either police or army uniforms.

While it was not immediately clear who the gunmen were, activists and authorities have in the past reported a number of apparently targeted killings.

Nearly quarter of a million people have fled the violence in Burundi, with more than 70,000 seeking refuge in neighboring Rwanda, according to the U.N. refugee agency.

Burundi accused Rwanda in December of supporting a rebel group that was recruiting Burundian refugees on Rwandan soil, a charge dismissed by Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

A confidential report to the U.N. Security Council accuses Rwanda of recruiting and training Burundian refugees with the aim of ousting Nkurunziza.

In a sign of the tensions, thousands of demonstrators mainly from Nkurunziza's ruling CNDD-FDD party and its UPRONA ally held peaceful marches against Rwanda on Saturday.

Demonstrators rallied in Bujumbura and elsewhere, waving placards saying "We denounce Rwanda's open aggression against Burundi."

"All Burundians denounce Rwanda and its president Paul Kagame for the bad plans they have been carrying out since May 2015 in training and recruiting for criminal groups some of the Burundians who are in refugee camps in that country," Bujumbura mayor Freddy Mbonimpa, a member of Nkurunziza's party, told demonstrators in the capital.

(Writing by George Obulutsa; Editing by Helen Popper)