Gunmen killed 26 people on Friday night in an attack on a village in Cibitoke province northwest Burundi, a government official confirmedSaturday, as tensions rise ahead of a controversial referendum set for May 17.
Burundi’s minister in charge of security Alain Bunyoni who visited the scene of the killing described the attack as “a terrorist” act. He said seven other people were injured in the attack.
President Nkurunziza on Saturday twitted and condemned the attack, saying his government will do everything to apprehend the assailants. “In total, 23 families were attacked and many people are horrified,” a local leader, speaking on condition of anonymity told iRwanda24.com
Sources in Burundi told this news website, 17 members of a single family were killed. The head of this family is reportedly called Mutwa attached to the Presidential police unit.
Mutwa is accused by several members of the opposition of carrying out a ruthless attack on the family of Christopher Nkezebihiza, a TV cameraman killed together with his entire family in 2015.
“It appears the underlying motivation of the attackers was revenge and we expect more bloodshed in the coming days,” Dismas Bizimana, a resident of Cibito told this news website on Saturday.
Nobody has claimed the responsibilities and Minister Bunyonyi never gave details on who attacked the people in Cibitoke, located near the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Last month, residents in Cibitoke reported movements of people crossed from DRC into Burundi armed. Some reports indicated the group belonged to members of FDLR operating in DRC but currently reportedly trying to link up with Imbonerakure, the ruling party armed youth wing and support Nkurunziza.
The killings come ahead of a controversial referendum that aims at extending presidential term limits, to allow President Nkurunziza to remain in power for another 16 years.
At least 1,200 people were killed and more than 400,000 fled the country following the violence sparked by Nkurunziza’s decision in 2015 to run for a third term.
Nkurunziza’s current term expires in 2020. He came to power in 2005 after a peace deal ended a decade of civil war, in which 300,000 people were killed.
By Our Reporter