Unknown gunmen killed four people on Saturday night in two villages southeast of Burundi’s capital Bujumbura.
The killings were the latest in a series of violent incidents which have rattled the small central African nation since a political dispute erupted a year ago.
Tit-for-tat attacks between President Pierre Nkurunziza’s security forces and his opponents have been escalating since he announced a disputed bid for a third term in April 2015.
Etienne Nijimbere, a local government official, told Reuters on Sunday the gunmen had attacked two villages in Mugamba district, 60 kilometers southeast of Bujumbura, and killed four people.
Another source told Reuters that “some of the attackers were wearing military uniforms with hoods on [their] heads”.
Nijimbere said all four people killed were likely targeted because they were members of the ruling CNDD-FDD party.
Late on Saturday a grenade was also thrown at a fuel reserve facility in Burundi’s second largest town, Gitenga, although the blast caused no damage, according to a regional government official, Anicet Manirambona.
Three armed groups, including one led by officers that attempted a coup in May 2015, have launched armed rebellions against the government, officials say.
None have claimed responsibility for Saturday’s attacks.
Burundi has accused neighboring Rwanda of supporting the anti-Nkurunziza rebels and there are concerns the violence could convulse the entire Great Lakes region, still haunted by Rwanda’s 1994 genocide.
Rwanda and Burundi both have ethnic Hutu majorities and Tutsi minorities.
UN weighs police force for Burundi
Calling the situation in Burundi “alarmingly precarious,” UN chief Ban Ki-moon is proposing three options for a new UN police mission there, ranging from a full force of 3,000 officers to a light dispatch of 20 to 50.
The options were detailed in a report to the Security Council obtained by AFP on Saturday, two weeks after the council agreed to send a police force to the African country to help quell a year of violence there.
In the report, Ban said dispatching a force of up to 3,000 was “the only option that could provide some degree of physical protection to the population” but that the mission would take months to prepare and present logistical challenges.
A second option, he said, would be to send 228 UN police officers to work with human rights officials and possibly with African Union monitors to provide early warning, but it would not offer any protection to civilians.
The secretary-general said the council could also decide to send a group of 20 to 50 officers who would assess the Burundi police force and “help bring about concrete and measurable improvements in the respect for human rights and rule of law.”
The council is under pressure to take action in Burundi where the descent into violence has raised fears of mass atrocities, similar to those that convulsed neighboring Rwanda in 1994.
Burundi has been in turmoil since President Pierre Nkurunziza announced plans in April last year to run for a third term, which he went on to win.
Violence has left more than 400 dead and driven more than 250,000 people across the border.