Three people were killed in a grenade attack on a bar in the Burundian capital Bujumbura late on Monday, police said, as the impoverished nation faces the prospect of a return to civil war.
Burundi sank into a crisis last year after President Pierre Nkurunziza ran for a third term of office, which he secured in a disputed vote.
U.N. officials say the crisis has brought the nation to the brink of a new civil war, after it emerged from a 12-year, ethnically fueled conflict just a decade ago.
Pierre Nkurukiye, the police spokesman, said a senior police officer, a lawyer and a civil servant were killed in the attack that took place in the Bwiza neighborhood.
Witnesses said the attackers used a motorbike to get to the scene and to flee after the explosion.
Police arrested several youths in the area after the attack on the bar that is popular with Nkurunziza’s supporters, the witnesses added.
All hope is not lost
Meanwhile, exiled leader of the Opposition Front for Democracy in Burundi (FRODEBU), told Voice of America efforts toward a peaceful resolution of the Burundian crisis are not dead because the Burundian people want peace.
Peace talks that were scheduled to resume on January sixth in Uganda’s capital, Kampala, did not take place because the government of President Pierre Nkurunziza said it would not negotiate with certain opposition figures it considers as “coup plotters” or “sponsors of acts of terrorism.”
But FRODEBU leader Jean Minani said the president has said ‘the peace process can’t be dead because all Burundians expect to have peace. So, if the current government of Nkurunziza doesn’t want to negotiate, they will be forced to go into negotiation, he said.”
Minani said Nkurunziza has probably forgotten that peace negotiations are usually between enemies and not friends.
He denied that some members of the opposition and civil society are seeking the violent overthrow of the government.
“When Mr. Pierre Nkurunziza negotiated on behalf of the CNDD-FDD (Burundi’s ruling party) there was a comment like this. But we accepted to negotiate with him. He knows that if you have to negotiate, you don’t negotiate with your friend; you negotiate with your enemies. It is because he has nothing to say to the people,” Minani said.
Minani said Nkurunziza does not want to negotiate because he knows he’s the cause of the crisis the country is experiencing today.
“Nkurunziza is the cause of the crisis of Burundi. He’s afraid to come with all the people, with the international community to talk with us because there’s nothing to talk about. He can’t come to talk with us because he knows he has nothing to talk about,” Minani said.
Burundi’s foreign minister Alain Nyamitwe told VOA last month his government is fighting against “terrorists” some of whom were using grenades to kill innocent civilians.
“Let me first of all say that it is unfortunate that people have died in that incident. But let me ask the question what would be the response of any police force wherever in the world when they are attacked by armed people who are using hand grenades sometimes, even rocket-propelled grenades, and sometimes even AK-47,” Nyamitwe said.
“How do you respond to such fire? Is it by saying come and kill us, or by using fire because fire begets fire?” he added.