Gunmen kill two in Burundi attack ahead of visit by U.N.'s Ban: official

Reuters News
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Posted: Feb 22, 2016 6:09 AM

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Gunmen killed two people in a Burundi village outside the capital, a local official said on Monday, a day before U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visits in a bid to end bloodshed over President Pierre Nkurunziza's disputed re-election.

More than 400 people have been killed since April when Nkurunziza said he would run for a third term, a move opponents dismissed as unconstitutional and sought to prevent by staging street protests.

On Tuesday Ban will meet Nkurunziza, who has rejected plans by the African Union to send peacekeepers to Burundi to ease tensions.

Celestin Singirankabo, the head of Gisozi district in Mwaro province, said the killings took place late on Sunday in Kiyange village, about 50 km (30 miles) east of Bujumbura.

"It was at around 8.00 p.m. last night when gunmen entered in a bar and opened fire, killing two people while two others were injured and were admitted in a nearby hospital of Ijenda,” he told Reuters.

Singirankabo said in the same area soldiers repulsed another armed group.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack but the government says there are now three rebel outfits fomenting violence, including two groups made up of renegade soldiers.

In May, a group of soldiers tried to depose Nkuruznziza in a failed coup. Rights groups also regularly accuse the government of cracking down on dissent.

Western powers worry Burundi is sliding toward another civil war and many in the region fear the violence could reopen ethnic wounds in the landlocked country of 10 million.

The U.N. is under growing pressure to show it can halt the bloodshed, two decades after the 1994 genocide of ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus by the Hutu majority in neighboring Rwanda, which has a similar ethnic make-up to Burundi.

(Writing by George Obulutsa; editing by Drazen Jorgic)