Burundi gunmen murder military officer

Burundi-SoldiersGunmen in unrest-wracked Burundi have shot dead a high-ranking military officer who was seen as a critic of the regime, a witness and an army spokesman told AFP on Thursday.

“Yesterday (Wednesday) at around 7:00 pm (1700 GMT), Lieutenant-Colonel Emmanuel Buzubona was on his way home in Kinama on motorbike when he was killed along with his driver by three men armed with rifles and grenades,” the officer’s neighbour told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Army spokesman Colonel Gaspard Baratuza confirmed the report, adding that the attackers first shot the officer and then hurled a grenade at him.

“A police inquiry is under way to try to find the assassins,” he said.

Buzubona, Burundi’s former deputy military intelligence chief, had been on leave since his return from a mission in Tanzania six months ago, a high-ranking military officer told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Burundi has been in turmoil since April 2015, when President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to run for a third term, which he went on to win in July, with violence leaving hundreds dead.

There has been no claim of responsibility for the latest killing, but partisans and opponents to Nkurunziza’s rule exchanged blame on social media networks.

Supporters of the regime accuse soldiers of the former Tutsi army of shooting dead the Hutu officer.

Opponents however say the officer was killed because he was hostile to the government.

Suspected of forging an alliance with insurgents opposed to Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term, Buzubona was arrested in December 12 last year by the national intelligence service, which operates on direct orders from the president.

He was released six days later, a security source told AFP.

Violence over the past year has left more than 400 people dead and forced more than 250,000 people to flee Burundi, and watchdogs have repeatedly sounded the alarm.

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