Gunmen kill army major in Burundi bar attack

Burundi police were quick to term the killing of the country's environment minister on New Year's Eve an "assassination" although the motive for the attack was not immediately clear (AFP Photo/LANDRY NSHIMIYE)

Nairobi (AFP) - Gunmen in Burundi shot dead an army major and wounded the husband of the senate's deputy speaker, police said Monday, the latest violence in near daily gun battles.

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

Late Sunday, insurgents opened fire on the bar in the capital Bujumbura, killing the officer and wounding Damascus Hakizimana, husband of the first Vice President of the Senate, Spes-Njebarikanuye Caritas, a powerful ruling party member.

"Major Salvator Katihabwa died on the spot and two people were injured, including the owner of the bar," said Moise Nkurunziza, a police spokesman, adding that Hakizimana was in a "critical condition."

Burundi's 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.

Armed clashes between gunmen and security forces are a near daily event. Burundi is still scarred by memories of its 1993-2006 civil war pitting rebels from the Hutu majority against an army dominated by minority Tutsis.