BUJUMBURA, Burundi (AP) — A military general in Burundi who was an adviser to the country's vice president was shot dead in the capital, a military official said Monday.
Brig. Gen. Athanase Kararuza was ambushed Monday morning by gunmen who fired at his car when he dropped his daughter at school in the Bujumbura neighborhood of Gihosha, said military spokesman Col. Gaspard Baratuza.
Kararuza's wife and one of his bodyguards were also killed in the attack while his daughter, another bodyguard and the driver were injured, Baratuza said in a statement.
Baratuza urged calm and said that the perpetrators of the attack hoped to divide the army.
There was no immediate comment from the army about who might have carried out the killings, but recently there have been attacks on military officials following the launch of a rebel group fighting President Pierre Nkurunziza's government.
Kararuza was seen as one of few remaining high-ranking Tutsi army officers still close to Nkurunziza, an ethnic Hutu. In a Twitter post, Nkurunziza condemned the attack on Kararuza.
The targeting of senior army officers in Burundi may be aimed at fomenting rifts within the army, said Lambert Nigarura, a prominent lawyer and activist.
Burundi has been wracked by violence since April 2015 when President Pierre Nkurunziza declared his bid for a third term, which he eventually won in July. More than 430 people have been killed in the violence, according to the U.N. And some 250,000 people have fled the country, fearing more violence.
The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has opened a preliminary probe into atrocities in Burundi over the last year. The "preliminary examination" announced Monday is a step toward a full investigation that could lead to Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to file charges against suspects. Investigators have received reports of crimes including "killing, imprisonment, torture (and) rape" in Burundi, according to a statement by Bensouda on the ICC website.
Ssuuna reported from Kigali, Rwanda.