Burundi: Official says 4 members of ruling party killed

BUJUMBURA, Burundi (AP) — A Burundi official said Sunday that four members of the country’s ruling party were killed in an attack in continuing violence associated with the extended tenure of President Pierre Nkurunziza.

The attack was on supporters of the ruling party who had gathered for an exercise to clean up the environment, said Jerome Ntakarutimana, chief of Mugamba district in Buriri province.

The four men died after armed men dressed in hoods and military fatigues stormed a bar Saturday night and opened fire, said a survivor of the attack, who insisted on anonymity for his safety. The attack increases the number killed in the past week to 10.

Nkurunziza’s controversial third term has set off rounds of political violence in which more than 400 people have died.

Burundi has experienced violent street protests, which boiled over into a failed coup in May and now a rebellion, since the ruling party announced Nkurunziza’s candidature for a third term in office in April last year. Nkurunziza won elections in July, which observers said was flawed.

The international community is concerned that Burundi, which has a long history of coup attempts and civil war, could be sliding into a full blown conflict.

Earlier this month the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights, Democracy and Labor Tom Malinowski described the situation in Burundi as extremely grave after visiting the country.

“We do not want to see a repeat of catastrophes that have befallen this country in the past and other countries in this region,” he said. There is no question that human rights abuses are continuing, including the detentions of people perceived as opposition sympathizers, reports of people being disappeared and serious attacks by armed groups, Malinowski said.

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