8 killed as gunfire, explosions shut down Burundi's capital

BUJUMBURA, Burundi - Unidentified attackers stormed two military camps in Burundi's capital Friday, and soldiers said eight people were killed in the ensuing firefights as gunfire and explosions rocked Bujumbura, terrifying civilians who hid in their homes.

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Five of the attackers and two soldiers were killed in the assault by people in civilian clothing at 4 a.m at a camp in Ngagara, a soldier said. Two attackers were reportedly captured. Another soldier at the military college of ISCAM said one soldier died in an attack by unknown men around the same time. Both soldiers insisted on anonymity because they are not authorized to speak with the media.

The sounds of battle continued past daybreak Friday, with people staying indoors and only military and police vehicles seen patrolling the city centre. Road blocks were set up in part of the city, residents said.

The fighting is apparently part of violence linked to President Pierre Nkurunziza having been elected to a third term, which many Burundians and foreign observers had opposed as unconstitutional and in violation of peace accords that ended a civil war in which 300,000 people were killed between 1993 and 2006.

Nkurunziza won elections in July for a third term. The constitutional Court ruled in favour of Nkurunziza, who says he was entitled to another term because for his first term he was elected by parliament and not by popular mandate. The deputy president of the constitutional Court fled to exile in Rwanda before the ruling and said the court had been coerced to rule in favour of the president.

Nkurunziza's push for a third term has triggered months of violence, including a coup attempt. At least 240 people have been killed since April and about 215,000 others have fled to neighbouring countries, according to the U.N.

At least seven people were killed this week six by men wearing police uniforms.

Both opponents and supporters of the government have been killed in apparent revenge attacks.

Burundi has a history of deadly conflicts between the country's Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups. Nkurunziza took power in 2005 near the end of the war.


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