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Gunmen ambush Burundian army commander

30 November 2015, 07:52

Nairobi - Gunmen wounded a senior army commander in western Burundi, a military spokesperson said on Sunday, with at least four killed in following clashes.

Colonel Serge Kabanyura was shot when gunmen opened fire in an ambush as he was driving on Saturday to the capital Bujumbura, about 20km from the city, said army spokesperson Gaspard Baratuza.

The area is a stronghold of the former rebels from the 1993-2006 civil war, the National Liberation Forces (FNL), many of whom now oppose the third term in power of President Pierre Nkurunziza.

Burundi descended into violence in April after Nkurunziza launched his now successful bid for a third consecutive term in office, despite concerns over the legality of such a move.

Army officers said four insurgents had been killed as troops hunted the attackers, although insurgent sources denied they were responsible for the shooting.

While insurgents have repeatedly targeted the police including in regular grenade attacks, they have largely refrained from attacking the army, seen by many as being more neutral in the crisis.

"We are not responsible for the ambush - it must be a settling of accounts inside their camp," said an insurgent, a former army officer.

Burundi's government blames a string of attacks on "armed criminals", but the UN has warned that Burundi risks sliding back into civil war after a dramatic rise in violence.

Armed clashes between gunmen and security forces are a near daily event.

Burundi is still scarred by memories of its 1993-2006 civil war pitting rebels from the Hutu majority against an army dominated by minority Tutsis.



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