Four killed in Burundi battles: police

Local residents look at the OcalKing Star Cyber Bar in the Bwiza district of Burundi's capital Bujumbura after a grenade attack in November 2015 (AFP Photo/Sarah Fluck)

Nairobi (AFP) - At least four people were killed and others wounded, including police, in the latest clashes in months of unrest in Burundi's troubled capital, police said Sunday.

Heavy gunfire and grenade explosions were heard overnight Saturday, with the bodies of four people found on the streets on Sunday morning. Residents said gun battles raged for around two hours.

Burundi descended into violence in April after President Pierre Nkurunziza launched a now succesful bid for a third consecutive term in office, despite concerns over the legality of such a move.

At least 240 people have been killed and more than 200,000 have fled the country since.

Deputy police spokesman Moses Nkurunziza said violence erupted when officers tried to arrest a gang of youths they said were plotting a grenade attack.

Three policemen and two civilians were also wounded, he said.

The government blames a string of attacks on "armed criminals", but the UN has warned that Burundi risks sliding back into civil war after a dramatic rise in violence.

Insurgents this week said they were responsible for a failed mortar attack on Burundi's presidential palace, in one of the first known such attempts, although police denied the report.

The two shells, reportedly fired from the surrounding hills, exploded a few hundred metres (yards) from the complex, echoing attacks carried out during the 1993-2006 civil war. There were no casualties.

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