Seven killed in Burundi violence: police, witneses

Burundi descended into violence in April after President Pierre Nkurunziza launched a bid for a third consecutive term in office, despite concerns over the legality of such a move (AFP Photo/Landry Nshimiye)

Nairobi (AFP) - At least seven people were killed and several others wounded in the latest violence in Burundi's capital, police and witnesses said Monday, a week after the launch of a crackdown search for weapons.

Attackers on Monday hurled grenades in two separate attacks, wounding three policemen and two civilians in a largely pro-government district of the capital Bujumbura, police said on state radio.

Police spokesman Pierre Nkurikiye said a policeman and three "armed criminals" were killed overnight Sunday, while five policeman and two attackers were wounded in at least four separate attacks overnight.

The attacks included shootings at a bar, while witnesses and police sources reported other deaths across the city.

"There have been several armed criminal attacks in many neighbourhoods of Bujumbura which were apparently coordinated," a senior police officer said, confirming that six people were killed in separate attacks overnight Sunday.

Nkurikiye declined to comment Monday on the violence.

Burundi descended into violence in April after President Pierre Nkurunziza launched a 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 the opposition took to the streets to protest the incumbent's refusal to give up power.

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.

Some 300,000 people were killed in the conflict, which kicked off a year before a genocide of mainly Tutsi people in neighbouring Rwanda.

International alarm has been mounting after repeated appeals to Nkurunziza to enter dialogue with the opposition went unanswered and the political rhetoric grew increasingly poisonous -- drawing comparisons with the hate speech that whipped up the violence in Rwanda.