Witnesses and police say several dead bodies were seen lying in the streets of Bujumbura, a day after attacks on three military bases by a militant group. It is the country's worst violence since a failed coup in May.
At least 20 dead bodies were seen lying in the streets of Bujumbura's flashpoint Nyakabiga district on Saturday afterthe co-ordinated attacks on the three military installations by an unidentified group, police and witnesses said.
There were reports from other witnesses of more bodies lying in other parts of the city.
It was not immediately clear who had killed victims, many of them young men. Nyakabiga was not targeted in Friday's raids, which occurred in the Ngagara, Musaga and Mujejuru areas, according to an army spokesman, Colonel Gaspard Baratuza.
Baratuza told state radio that three soldiers lost their lives in the raids, while 12 of the attackers were killed and 20 others were arrested.
The incident comes amid continued unrest in Burundi that started in April, when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced plans for a third term in office that many Burundians and foreign observers criticized as unconstitutional. He went on to win July elections that were marred by an opposition boycott and violence.
Some 240 people have been killed in the unrest since April, and almost a quarter of a million have fled to neighboring countries.
An attempt by rebels to topple the president in May failed, but one of the generals behind the unsuccessful coup said in July that the rebel group was still planning to get rid of the leader.
In 2005, Burundi ended its 12-year civil war pitting rebels from the Hutu majority - including one group headed by Nkurunziza - against what was at the time a Tutsi-led army. Around 300,000 people were killedin the conflict, which erupted in 1993.
Neighboring Rwanda, which has the same ethnic mix, was ravaged by a genocide two decades ago that has left the entire region volatile.
The 2005 peace accord in Burundi smoothed over the ethnic rifts, but Western powers and neigboring countries fear that they may gape open again if the current violence continues.
tj/rc (Reuters, AP, AFP)