BURUNDI: Shelling resumes in Bujumbura

Thursday, April 24, 2008
The resumption in the violence in Bujumbura is causing panic in the country. Outside the capital, residents spend their nights in the bush for fear of being attacked, as the death toll rose to 33.

A bomb destroyed part of the Vatican embassy compound and a dining hall in the Kiriri University campus on 22 April.

"We call on the army to remove its heavy arms from our campus," a student said, reacting to the installation of rocket launchers aimed at rebuffing attacks by the rebel FNL.

On 18 April, attacks were launched on military positions in Gihosha, Kanyosha, Kamenge and Musaga areas. At Gihosha, an MP’s residence was hit.

The spokesman for the Burundi defence force, Lt-Col Adolphe Manirakiza, condemned the FNL for having "violated the ceasefire accord" signed in 2006. However, the FNL’s Pasteur Habimana rejected the accusation, blaming the army for provoking its combatants.

The FNL called on Burundian troops "to return to their barracks". The army, however, rejected the call. "We cannot do this because we have to protect civilians from the movement's attacks," Manirakiza said.

Habimana called for help in mediation efforts and for the resumption of talks under the Joint Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JVMM).

On 21 April, the government spokeswoman, Hafsa Mossi, urged the international community to impose sanctions on the FNL if it continued to violate the ceasefire accord. She said the FNL was not interested in the peace process.

The attacks follow months of interruption of the JVMM talks aimed at implementing the ceasefire accord.