Burundi: Over 100 arrested in 1 province amid rebel fears

AP News
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Posted: Sep 16, 2015 6:22 AM

BUJUMBURA, Burundi (AP) — More than 100 men in a central Burundi province have been arrested in two days by security forces trying to prevent Burundians from being recruited to fight the government, a regional official said Wednesday.

The men were arrested Tuesday and Wednesday while trying to relocate to the southern areas of Burundi, said Venant Manirambona, the governor of Gitega Province, where the arrests happened.

He said a group of 50 young men was arrested Wednesday morning while trying to leave the province. No rebel group has been identified, but security forces have recently reported rebel attacks on military outposts.

"We have been surprised by a huge number of young men taking the same direction ... when Burundi is going through a difficult political, social and security situation," he said. "The services in charge of security had to arrest these persons."

However, many Burundians continue to flee to neighboring countries, with between 250 to 300 people seeking refuge in Tanzania daily for the last two months, Stephen Mhando, a spokesman for the U.N. refugee agency, said by phone from the Tanzanian city of Dar-es-Salaam.

Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza's decision to seek more time in office after serving for two terms sparked violent street protests in the nation's capital, Bujumbura.

In May, the unrest boiled over into an attempted military coup that was quickly foiled by Nkurunziza's allies in the security forces. Nkurunziza was re-elected in July.

Bujumbura remains prone to violence amid a wave of gun, rocket and grenade attacks in which both supporters and rivals of the president have been targeted.

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Associated Press reporter Rodney Muhumuza in Kampala, Uganda, contributed to this report.