Burundi is unsafe for travel, Canadian officials say

Government officials are advising Canadians to avoid any travel to the east-African nation of Burundi due to a recent spike in violence.

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The warning is due to “ongoing political tensions, civil unrest and daily armed violence,” Global Affairs Canada said in an advisory published Sunday.

“The situation could deteriorate rapidly. If you are in Burundi, you should leave by commercial means if you can do so safely,” the statement says.

Tensions throughout the country remain high since the July 2015 election, in which President Pierre Nkurunziza won a controversial third term. Protesters argued that Nkurunziza was ineligible to hold office a third time due to constitutional constraints.

More than 300 people have been killed and 215,000 others have fled the nation since April, when Nkurunziza made the contentious decision to run.

Gunfire and grenade attacks have become part of “daily violence” in some central regions, according to Global Affairs Canada.

On Friday, more than 150 heavily armed men attempted to raid military facilities in the country’s capital of Bujumbura. At least 87 people were killed and 21 injured in the attack.

After the siege, flights into and out of the capital city were temporarily delayed. They have since resumed.

Still, Canadian officials say travellers should be “extremely vigilant” in the capital city, and added caution should be exercised after dark and in crowded places such as churches, markets, cafés and bus stations.

Additionally, Global Affairs Canada says travellers have reported incidents of violence, intimidation and harassment at official checkpoints outside the capital city and toward the Rwandan border.

Officials recommend carrying proper identification at all times and monitoring local news outlets for updates on the tension.

Canadians who require assistance are asked to contact the High Commission of Canada in Nairobi, Kenya.


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