At least 87 bodies were found in Burundi’s capital Bujumbura on Saturday Dec. 12th, a day after the government said an unidentified group carried out coordinated attacks on three military installations.
The violence is linked to President Pierre Nkurunziza’s third term in office, which many Burundians and foreign observers had opposed as unconstitutional and in violation of a peace accord. The treaty ended a civil war in which 300,000 people were killed between 1993 and 2006.
“The final toll of the attacks yesterday is 79 enemies killed, 45 captured and 97 weapons seized, and on our side eight soldiers and policemen were killed and 21 wounded,” Colonel Barataria, Burundi Army spokesman was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency.
“Residents say people wearing police uniforms came into residential areas that have been hotbeds of protest. Residents believe these killings were a response to Friday’s attacks on the military,” reported Al Jazeera’s Malcolm Webb, who spoke to eyewitnesses in Bujumbura.
“The bodies of dozens of civilians were on the street – most of them young men – many appear to have been shot at close range,” said Webb.
According to Associated Press, an eye witness said he counted 21 bodies with bullet wounds in their heads in the Nyakabiga neighbourhood on Saturday morning.
Some of the dead had their hands tied behind their backs.
Fidele Muyobera (22), said: “I fear I can be killed like my friend yesterday, police came to search our house and by chance I escaped. If I had money, I would go buy a passport and flee.”
“What is the international community waiting for? Will they intervene when there are no more people in Burundi?” asked businessman Gerald Bigirimana in Nyakabiga while pointing at one of the bodies lying on the streets.
Police spokesman Pierre Nkurikiye said there were “no collateral victims” during Friday’s clashes.
“All the deaths were attackers killed in the joint sweep operation of the army and police,” Nkurikiye said. “The enemy was neutralised.”