African Union to deploy 5,000 peacekeepers to Burundi; at least 400 killed since April

BUJUMBURA, Burundi -- When Burundi's police raided Nyakabiga, a neighbourhood in the capital Bujumbura, on Friday 11 December 2015, Egide Niyongere was sitting at home.

See Full Article

The young man who held an administrative post at the Ministry of Health for nearly two years, stayed inside most of the day, while the security forces combed the neighbourhood looking for insurgents.

But at about 3 p.m., after phoning his fiancee, Niyongere disappeared. His body was found the next day at the morgue, among the many other young men who were killed during last week's counterinsurgency operations by government forces. According to witnesses, Niyongere was dragged into a police car by security agents, his hands tied behind his back, and the vehicle drove away.

"Egide had nothing to do with a rebellion or an insurgency," said a neighbour, who spoke on condition of anonymity because she fears for her safety.

Like many others killed in Nyakabiga, Niyongere's body bore the marks of a point blank shooting. Some bodies had shattered skulls, while others had their hands bound behind their backs.

"These look like extrajudicial executions by the police and an independent investigation is urgently needed to establish exactly what happened and who was responsible," said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International's deputy regional director for East Africa and the Great Lakes.

At least 154 people have been killed and nearly 150 have disappeared in the past week, according to the International Federation for Human Rights and its Burundi affiliate organization, ITEKA. The organizations called for the UN to investigate the killings.

Burundi has been rocked by unrest, arrests and killings since April when it was announced that President Pierre Nkurunziza would run for a third term, sparking violent street protests and a failed coup in May.

Since Nkurunziza's re-election in July, a few rebel groups have emerged, protesting against the president and occasionally attacking government targets in the capital's streets and in the provinces. In retaliation, the government has arrested hundreds of people and it has threatened, tortured and killed opponents, according to witnesses and human rights organizations.

The violence has escalated in the past week. Armed opposition fighters stormed three army camps in Bujumbura on Friday Dec. 11, in order to seize weapons and free prisoners, according to army spokesman colonel Gaspard Baratuza. Officially, 79 rebels, four soldiers and four policemen died in the clashes.

Government forces responded by raids in Bujumbura areas known as centres of opposition. Saturday morning Bujumbura residents found 28 bodies in the streets. Residents of the Nyakabiga and Musaga neighbourhoods report summary killings, describing reckless security forces on a rampage in the two areas.

"Before they killed (my neighbour), they drank the milk he was selling and ate all his cakes. As they left, they asked him to close the door and killed him while he was doing it. See the bullet in the head," said one resident, who insisted on anonymity for her safety.

The forces pillaged houses and shops and there were indiscriminate killings and arrests, according to residents. Much of the violence came from the API, an elite police unit deployed in Nyakabiga, they said.

The government denies all the allegations. During a press conference on Thursday 18, December, Burundi's Foreign Affairs minister, Alain Nyamitwe said he "regrets that people lost their lives," but rejected calls for an independent investigation by international organizations such as Amnesty. "The government is leading its own investigation," he said. "If people are guilty, they will be prosecuted."

However for Egide Niyongere's family, whatever is done is too late. At the Regina Mundi cathedral in Bujumbura, during his funeral on Wednesday, the simple coffin was draped in white fabric fixed to the wood planks by pins. A cousin said he was planning to get married in 2016.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • D.C. sniper requests hearing to ask for lower sentence

    World News CTV News
    RICHMOND, Va. - A sniper who randomly killed 10 people and terrorized the Washington, D.C., region more than 15 years ago is entitled to a new hearing to ask for a lighter sentence, his lawyer argued Tuesday to a federal appeals court. Source
  • Skepticism, worry amid preparation for Rohingya repatriation

    World News CTV News
    YANGON, Myanmar -- Myanmar says it's ready for a gradual repatriation of Muslim Rohingya refugees chased out by the Buddhist-majority country's military. Bangladesh says it's preparing for the transfer, but it might need more time. Source
  • Philippine volcano spreads lava almost three kilometres from crater

    World News CTV News
    LEGAZPI, Philippines -- Lava fountaining regularly from the Philippines' most active volcano has flowed up to 3 kilometres (1.86 miles) from the crater in a dazzling but increasingly dangerous eruption. Mount Mayon has spewed lava up to 600 metres (2,000 feet) high at times Tuesday and early Wednesday and its ash plumes stretched up to 5 kilometres (3 miles) above the crater. Source
  • 'So glad that you're here': MMIW inquiry begins in Yellowknife

    Canada News CTV News
    After a year of struggles, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls resumed Tuesday in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. “I’m so glad that you’re here,” Dean Meyer, whose daughter went missing in 2010, said on the first of three days of hearings. Source
  • Conservative MP Kellie Leitch won't run in 2019

    Canada News CBC News
    Conservative MP Kellie Leitch will not seek re-election in 2019, CBC News has confirmed. Leitch, who represents the Ontario riding of Simcoe–Grey, made a failed bid for the party's leadership last year. More to come Source
  • Girl tortured with siblings was bullied, frail: classmate

    World News CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- The oldest of the 13 California siblings who authorities said were imprisoned by their parents was frail, smelly and picked on as a grade school student in Texas, one of her classmates said in a heart-wrenching Facebook post. Source
  • Oklahoma gas rig workers' remains recovered day after explosion

    World News CBC News
    Officials on Tuesday recovered the remains of five gas rig workers who had been missing since a fiery explosion in eastern Oklahoma a day earlier. Pittsburg County Sheriff Chris Morris said once the natural gas drilling rig was stabilized following the blast and subsequent fires, employees from the state medical examiner's office went into the wreckage and recovered the bodies in about two hours. Source
  • Calgary skydiver killed in Southern California roof crash

    Canada News CTV News
    PERRIS, Calif. -- Authorities have identified a skydiver who died when he fell onto the roof of a home in Southern California. The Riverside County coroner's bureau says the man who died Monday afternoon was Aime-Jean St. Source
  • Gay couple sues U.S. government for denying citizenship to one of their twins

    World News CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- Ethan and Aiden Dvash-Banks are toddler twins who share almost everything: the same toys, the same nursery, the clothes and the same parents. Everything but a toothbrush and U.S. citizenship. To remedy what their parents, a gay married couple, view as an injustice, Ethan Dvash-Banks became a plaintiff at the tender age of 16 months in a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Source
  • Bodies of B.C. father, teen daughter recovered after ATV accident

    Canada News CTV News
    CAMPBELL RIVER, B.C. - A search for a man and his teenage daughter who were swept away while crossing a Vancouver Island creek on an all-terrain vehicle has come to an end after both bodies were found. Source