Burundi: Many killed in ′terrorist′ attack ahead of referendum | News | DW | 12.05.2018
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Burundi: Many killed in 'terrorist' attack ahead of referendum

The attack comes days before a disputed referendum that could extend President Pierre Nkurunziza's term. The Burundian government has blamed "terrorists" from neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo for the assault.

An armed group has killed 26 people in northwest Burundi, the security minister said on Saturday.

The security minister of the east African country, Alain Guillaume Bunyoni, told reporters that the attackers were "terrorists" from neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo.

He said 24 people were killed in their homes on Friday night and two others died of their wounds at a local hospital.

The minister gave no further details about the attack on the Ruhagarika community of the rural northwestern province of Cibitoke.

The attack comes just days before Burundians vote in a controversial referendum that could extend President Pierre Nkurunziza's term until 2034. It was not immediately clear if the attack was related.

Read more: Burundian activist: 'What has Nkurunziza done for his people?'

Eyewitnesses told journalists that the attack happened at around 10 p.m. local time (2200 CET) and attacked households and set houses ablaze.

Some victims were hacked with machetes and others were shot or burned alive.

Deadly violence

Burundi has witnessed deadly violence since 2015 when Nkurunziza successfully pursued a disputed third term. About 1,200 people have died and hundreds of thousands have fled the country.

The violence and abuses are being investigated by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Read moreOpinion: Burundi should be persuaded to cooperate with ICC investigators

Last month, Human Rights Watch accused the government of killing, beating and intimidating suspected opponents of the referendum in a bid to swing the vote in the president's favor.

The US has also denounced the violence against opponents and has expressed concern about the "non-transparent process" of changing the constitution.

The Burundian government has in recent weeks deployed soldiers to border areas after accusing exiled opposition groups of seeking to disrupt the vote.

Many Burundians fear a new round of bloodshed after the referendum no matter its results.

ap/rc (AFP, AP)

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