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At least 34 bodies found in Bujumbura

By on December 12, 2015

At least 34 bodies have been found in Burundi’s capital after the worst night of violence in recent times.

Most of the bodies found on the streets of Bujumbura appear to be young men killed by gunfire, some with their hands tied behind their backs.

The bodies were found a day after attacks on military sites. Residents accuse police of taking revenge. Residents said some of the dead had been rounded up by the police during the day after house-to-house searches on Friday, an allegation the police denied.

Blasts and gunfire echoed around Bujumbura for most of Friday after unknown gunmen attacked three military sites, but there was no fighting overnight and witnesses said the capital’s streets were calm on Saturday morning.

A government official said the police were collecting bodies across the capital but it was not clear how many people were killed in other districts where fierce fighting also took place.

The attempt to overthrow President Pierre Nkurunziza followed his decision to seek a third term in office, which he won in a disputed election in July.

The largest number of bodies found on Saturday were in Bujumbura’s Nyakabiga district, a focus of anti-government protests.

Others were discovered in the southern neighbourhood of Musaga. There are reports of more bodies in other parts of the city.

Friday saw some of the worst violence since the unrest began. Officials described heavily armed attackers launching co-ordinated assaults on army installations in three areas: Ngagara, Musaga and Mujejuru. One of the generals behind the failed coup attempt in May said in July the rebel group still aimed to topple the president and experts have warned that the army might fracture.

Unrest has blighted Burundi since an attempted coup in May and protests over the president’s continued rule. Until now, battle lines in Burundi’s crisis have followed the political divide. But Western powers and neighbouring countries fear prolonged violence could reopen old ethnic rifts.

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