Burundian Army Spokesman Colonel Gaspard Baratuza Friday denied the existence of divisions within the army, defying reports by some politicians of “clear divisions” between the two main components – Hutu and Tutsi – in the army.
Colonel Gaspard Baratuza was speaking in a live phone-in program held in Muramvya province, 50 km east of the Burundian capital Bujumbura, on local radio stations.
“There is no link between the killing on Tuesday of two army officers. They were killed in different circumstances. Let us wait for the outcome of investigations,” said Burundian Army Spokesman Colonel Gaspard Baratuza.
According to him, there are “ill-intended people” who want to take advantage of problems to divide the country’s institutions.
Baratuza said, “We rather call on soldiers to be at work and to avoid people who can manipulate them.”
On Tuesday, two army officers were shot dead in the east African country’s capital Bujumbura by unidentified persons in two different places.
Lieutenant Colonel Darius Ikurakure, commander of Muzinda military barrack, a Hutu who had been active in neutralizing insurgents in Mutakura, Cibitoke and Ngagara in the north of the capital Bujumbura was shot dead at the office of the army chief of staff at midday and later in the evening, Major Didier Muhimpundu, a Tutsi, deputy-director at the health department at the office of the army chief of staff, was shot dead in front of a bar.
Last year on Aug. 2, former Burundian Intelligence Chief Lieutenant General Adolphe Nshimirimana, a Hutu, was assassinated by gunmen in an ambush at Kamenge in the capital Bujumbura and two weeks later on Aug. 15, former Burundian Army Chief of Staff Colonel Jean Bikomagu, a Tutsi, was also shot dead in front of his house at Kabondo in the capital Bujumbura.
“It is evident that there are divisions within the army. When a Hutu is killed, the next victim is a Tutsi in retaliation. It is a pity that investigations are not made while killings are taking place within the army,” said Charles Nditije, chairman of the Union for National Progress (UPRONA) opposition party.
Burundi is facing a political turmoil that broke out since April 2015 following the announcement by Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza that he would be seeking a third term.
His candidature, which was opposed by the opposition and civil society groups, resulted into a wave of protests, violence and even a failed coup on May 13, 2015.
Over 400 persons are reported to have been killed since then while some 240,000 citizens sought exile in neighboring countries.