The Irish Times

Twelve insurgents killed as Burundi military sites attacked

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Gunmen attacked military sites in Burundi’s capital yesterday and 12 of the assailants were killed while 20 were arrested after heavy fighting, the army said.

Soldiers said at least five of their number were also killed, but an official army spokesman said they were only wounded in the latest flare-up in a nation Western powers fear may be sliding back into ethnic conflict.

The sound of firing echoed across the capital, Bujumbura, throughout yesterday after heavy gunfire and blasts erupted in the early hours. Residents said streets were empty and police were out in force at a time when people normally head to work.

The violence, the worst since a failed coup in May, is unnerving for a region that remains volatile two decades after the genocide in Rwanda next door. Until now, battle lines in Burundi’s crisis have followed the political divide. But there are fears old ethnic rifts could reopen.

Burundi’s 12-year civil war, which ended in 2005, pitted rebel groups of the Hutu majority, including one led by president Pierre Nkurunziza, against what was then an army led by the Tutsi minority. Rwanda has the same ethnic mix.

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