Bu­rundi in cri­sis as top gen­eral as­sas­si­nated

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

A top Burundian gen­eral and close aide to Pres­i­dent Pierre Nku­run­z­iza was killed Sun­day in an am­bush on his car in the cap­i­tal Bu­jum­bura, of­fi­cials and wit­nesses said.

The gen­eral killed, Adolphe Nshimi­r­i­mana, was widely seen as the cri­sis-hit cen­tral African na­tion’s de facto in­ter­nal se­cu­rity chief and even con­sid­ered the regime’s num­ber-two.

Po­lice and wit­nesses said Gen. Nshimi­r­i­mana’s pickup was hit by two rock­ets and sprayed with au­to­matic gun­fire in the cap­i­tal on Sun­day morn­ing, and he was later con­firmed dead, along with his driver.

The pres­i­dency’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions chief Willy Nyamitwe con­firmed the gen­eral, a for­mer army chief of staff and in­tel­li­gence chief, had been killed.

“I have lost a brother, a com­pan­ion in the strug­gle. The sad re­al­ity is that Gen­eral Adolphe Nshimi­r­i­mana is no longer with this world,” he said in a mes­sage posted on Twit­ter.

The as­sas­si­na­tion comes just over a week af­ter Pres­i­dent Nku­run­z­iza was de­clared the out­right win­ner of con­tro­ver­sial elec­tions, se­cur­ing a third con­sec­u­tive term de­spite op­po­si­tion protests and in­ter­na­tional con­dem­na­tion.

Nku­run­z­iza’s can­di­dacy was con­demned as un­con­sti­tu­tional by the op­po­si­tion and pro­voked months of protests that left at least 100 dead in a fierce gov­ern­ment crack­down, as well as an at­tempted coup in mid-May.

Gen. Nshimi­r­i­mana was seen as the mas­ter­mind be­hind the crack­down on the protests as well as a key player in foil­ing the coup at­tempt.

A source in the pres­i­dency said the sit­u­a­tion in Bu­rundi was “se­ri­ous” and warned of a pos­si­ble wave of re­venge at­tacks.

“The sit­u­a­tion is very se­ri­ous. The gen­eral was some­body who was es­sen­tial in the sys­tem,” said the source, who asked not to be named.

“We are try­ing to man­age the sit­u­a­tion but it is not easy. Our boys want to take re­venge.”

Po­lice sources said seven ar­rests were made, and a source in Bu­rundi’s Na­tional In­tel­li­gence Ser­vice, the SNR, said se­cu­rity forces were “ner­vous.”

“You can­not imag­ine what Gen- eral Adolphe rep­re­sented for us,” the source said.

“They have de­clared war and they will see what they get,” said another top pro-Nku­run­z­iza gen­eral, who asked not to be named.

There was no im­me­di­ate claim of re­spon­si­bil­ity for the as­sas­si­na­tion, although the coup plot­ters have since re­grouped and have launched a re­bel­lion in the north of the coun­try, and have also been linked to a string of grenade at­tacks in Bu­jum­bura.

There are fears that re­newed con­flict in the coun­try could reignite eth­nic Hutu-Tutsi vi­o­lence and bring another hu­man­i­tar­ian dis­as­ter to cen­tral Africa’s trou­bled Great Lakes re­gion. The last civil war in Bu­rundi, which ended in 2006, left at least 300,000 peo­ple dead.

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