Burundi’s political violence continued Saturday as 21 people were found shot dead in a neighborhood of the capital, a day after the government said an unidentified group carried out coordinated attacks on three military installations.
An eyewitness told The Associated Press he counted 21 bodies with bullet wounds in their heads in Bujumbura’s Nyakabiga neighborhood after Friday’s violence. Some of the dead had their hands tied behind their backs, said the witness, who insisted on anonymity due to safety concerns.
It wasn’t immediately clear who had killed the 21. Nyakabiga was not among the neighborhoods where the military said attacks on its installations took place.
Three soldiers were killed in the pre-dawn raid Friday by an unidentified group in the Ngagara, Musaga and Mujejuru areas, Army spokesman Col. Gaspard Baratuza told state radio. The army later killed 12 of the attackers and 20 others were arrested, including one who was wounded and is being treated at a military hospital, he said.
The United States said it is “deeply alarmed” by the violence in Bujumbura, said a statement released by John Kirby, a State Department spokesman. The U.S. called on neighboring countries to start urgent negotiations between Burundi’s government and the opposition to defuse the situation.
The violence is linked to President Pierre Nkurunziza’s third term in office, which many Burundians and foreign observers had opposed as unconstitutional and in violation of a peace accord. The treaty ended a civil war in which 300,000 people were killed between 1993 and 2006.
At least 240 people have been killed since April and about 215,000 others have fled to neighboring countries, according to the United Nations. Several hundred people have also been imprisoned for opposing Nkurunziza’s re-election this year.