Burundi rights activist’s son killed hours after arrest

map_of_burundiThe son of a leading Burundian rights activist was found dead Friday hours after he was arrested in the capital Bujumbura, his family and witnesses said.

The body of Welly Nzitonda, son of Pierre-Claver Mbonimpa — an activist publicly opposed President Pierre Nkurunziza’s controversial bid for a third term, and who was wounded in a shooting in August — was found on the street of the capital on Friday, witnesses said.

Mbonimpa, who is in exile in Europe, confirmed his son’s death.

The young man, like dozens of others, was leaving the capital’s Mutakura district, where many fear violence in coming days after Nkurunziza issued an ultimatum to gunmen to lay down their weapons by Saturday night.

Witness said they had seen him arrested, others that they had later seen his corpse on the roadside, lying alongside another dead body.

“When the police arrested him, there were many witnesses… we found him in the street alongside a second person,” one witness said.

Mbonimpa was shot in August by a gunman on a motorbike. That attack came shortly after the killing in a rocket attack of General Adolphe Nshimirimana, who was widely seen as the central African nation’s de facto internal security chief.

Mbonimpa’s son-in-law was also murdered in early October in Bujumbura.

It was not immediately possible to reach police officials.

The central African nation has seen months of violence triggered by Nkurunziza’s successful bid to win a third term in office, and bodies are nearly daily found dumped on the streets.

The United Nations has also warned that Burundi risks sliding back into conflict after a dramatic rise in killings, arrests and detentions.

Witnesses said four men were also killed on Friday morning by soldiers and police during an operation in Mutakura district.

However, a senior police official only confirmed that two “armed criminals” were killed when they tried to launch a grenade attack on police.

The UN Security Council will meet on Monday to discuss the situation, France said on Friday, with foreign ministry spokesman Romain Nadal denouncing the wave of “hate speech” threatening to inflame the country.

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