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

  • Madeleine McCann's parents hopeful missing girl still 'out there'

    World News Toronto Sun
    LONDON — The parents of Madeleine McCann, the 3-year-old British girl who vanished during a family vacation to Portugal in 2007, say they are still hopeful they will one day be reunited with their daughter as they mark the 10th anniversary of her disappearance. Source
  • Pope Francis visits Egypt's Christians targeted by ISIS

    World News CBC News
    Pope Francis wrapped up a brief but deeply symbolic visit to Egypt on Saturday with an open-air Mass for the country's tiny Catholic community, defying security concerns to show his support for the Christians of this Muslim-majority Arab nation who have increasingly become targeted by Islamic militants. Source
  • On Day 100, Trump snubs White House Correspondents' dinner for Pennsylvania rally

    World News CBC News
    U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday marked his 100th day in office by saying he had brought "profound change" to Washington and reaffirming that "my only allegiance" is to those he governs. On a threshold that Trump has both derided and tried to define, the president also said he is putting Americans first even as he learns on the job. Source
  • Peace parades mark 25th anniversary of Los Angeles riots

    World News CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- Twenty-five years ago, a jury acquitted four white police officers in the beating of black motorist Rodney King, sparking looting and violence that would turn into one of the deadliest race riots in American history. Source
  • 'Explosive device blast' kills U.S. service member in Mosul

    World News CBC News
    A U.S. service member in Iraq was killed Saturday by an explosive device outside Mosul, according to a statement released by the Pentagon. The Pentagon said the service member died from wounds sustained in an "explosive device blast," stating further information would be released as appropriate. Source
  • Military plane crashes in Cuba, killing all 8 on board

    World News CBC News
    A military airplane crashed into a mountain in Cuba's north-western region of Artemisa on Saturday morning, killing all eight personnel on board, the Ministry of Revolutionary Armed Forces said. The aircraft, a twin-engined turboprop Antonov AN-26, had taken off at 6:38 a.m. Source
  • 'I just want to see her breathe': Woman meeting mom who got twin sister's lungs

    Canada News CTV News
    Strangers are meeting in Winnipeg this weekend, more than a year after a tragic event changed their lives forever. One night, in February 2016, 23-year-old Leanne Germain, 23, died of complications from taking the drug ecstasy. Source
  • Tories launch campaign rally as N.S. waits for election call

    Canada News CTV News
    HALIFAX -- Nova Scotia's opposition parties have officially launched their campaigns in anticipation of an election call that could come as soon as this weekend thanks to an apparent gaffe by the governing Liberal party. Source
  • Pope urges against war with North Korea: 'I don't think humanity today could bear it'

    World News CTV News
    Pope Francis is warning that "a good part of humanity" will be destroyed if tensions with North Korea escalate, and he is calling for diplomacy and a revived United Nations to take the lead in negotiating a resolution. Source
  • Halifax mother who gave birth in Superstore didn't know she was pregnant

    Canada News CBC News
    The husband of the woman who gave birth in a Halifax grocery store says the arrival of little Ezra was even more of a surprise than it first seemed: the mother didn't know she was pregnant. Source