Burundi Crisis Rages, One Year On

It is now one year since the political crisis hit Burundi after the incumbent President Pierre Nkurunziza publicly announced that he will move for another term in office sparking violent protests.

Since then, more than 400 people have been killed and thousands have fled to neighbouring countries.

Burundi’s capital Bujumbura has been the centrestage of the crisis after the protests were crushed, but targeted assassinations have continued with both government and opposition supporters falling victim. The latest was Brig Gen Athanase Kararuza whose vehicle was hit by a rocket last Monday. His wife and body guard were also killed but a daughter they were dropping off in school survived.

“We call on the security forces to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice. The people behind these continued attacks are not different from terrorists,” said President Pierre Nkurunziza while addressing the nation following the incident.

Kararuza’s killing came hours after the minister of solidarity Martin Nivyabandi narrowly escaped a grenade attack in a Bujumbura neighbourhood.

With the continued targeted assassinations families who lost their loved ones in last year’s protests said they will be seeking justice.

“My son was out when the protests begun. He was with his friends when a police officer shot him in the head. He was the first to be killed when the protests erupted. His death has affected me badly,” said Hermenegilde Mwamarakiza, the father of a 16-year old boy.

This week too marks the 44th anniversary of the mass killings in 1972. A new group fighting for the victims said that the killings should be considered genocide. It is the first time an anniversary is done in the country for the killings in over 40 years.

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