Burundi: Fear of civil war looms

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Fear of looming rebellion is gripping Burundi following the discovery of fourteen bodies, some of them mutilated with machetes, in a river west of Burundi’s capital Bujumbura. The Central African nation is still recovering from a 12-year civil war.

Reports have revealed that heavily armed men with new military uniforms have been seen in the north and west of the country recently. This comes after seven people were killed in an attack last week. And the discovery of fourteen new victims has increased fears of growing instability.

Reporters in Bujumbura say the newly found bodies appeared to have been tied up before being dumped into the river. The corpses have been washing up on the shores of River Ruzizi, close to the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo, for the past week.

Burundi is still recovering from a decade-long civil war that claimed over 300,000 lives.

The fear of a looming civil unrest has been traced to events that occurred during the ethnic-based civil war when incumbent President Mr. Pierre Nkurunziza led a Hutu rebellion together with his ally Mr. Agathon Rwasa, against the then Tutsi-led government.

According to reports, when other warring factions set up a power-sharing government which was followed by elections in 2005, Mr. Rwasa refused to end the fighting.

Mr. Rwasa severed relations with President Nkurunziza and became his main opposition. Before the June polls, Mr. Rwasa disappeared from Burundi and is thought to have fled across the border into the Democratic Republic of Congo.

And some observers believe that the exiled Rwasa could be behind a rebellion against the government of President Nkurunziza.

However, Burundi authorities say the corpses may be linked to last week’s attack in the northern Rukoko area, which they believed was caused by cattle rustlers or bandits targeting farm workers.

“The government is resolved to track them down so that justice can apply to them a punishment equal to their crimes,” a government spokesman was quoted as saying.

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