Tensions high in Burundi after 87 people killed in clashes

Burundi remains tense after 79 anti-government protesters and eight Burundian soldiers killed in clashes

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Suspected fighters are paraded before the media by Burundian police near a recovered cache of weapons after clashes in the capital Bujumbura, Burundi on December 12, 2015 (Reuters)

The tensions in Burundi remained high on Sunday after the military confirmed that at least 79 anti-government protesters and eight soldiers were killed in clashes between the protesters and Burundian army following three separate bomb attack in the capital Bujumbura on Friday.

Burundian army spokesman Colonel Gaspard Baratuza confirmed on Saturday that the recent clashes left 87 people dead.

"Seventy-nine rebels [anti-government protesters] and eight soldiers were killed, 21 police officers were injured and 45 prisoners were also seized by the security," Baratuza said.

Clashes escalated a day after anti-government gunmen attacked three military bases on Friday that left 12 assailants and five soldiers dead, the spokesman added.

On Saturday, dozens of dead bodies, the total number rising to nearly 90, were found on the streets of Bujumbura.

Burundian police were carrying out investigations in the area and arrested several youth, eyewitnesses told Anadolu Agency.

The country has been rocked with a cycle of violence since President Pierre Nkurunziza announced his bid for third term in April, despite a two term limit in the constitution.

Many opposition supporters and some backers of Nkurunziza have been killed amid recent political turmoil.

The United Nations has warned on Tuesday that there is a risk of civil war in Burundi, if deadly violence is not stopped.

Burundi suffered a civil war between 1993 to 2005 and some 300,000 people died in the conflict between rebels from the country's majority Hutu population and an army dominated by the Tutsi minority.

At least 250 people have died in the latest violence and more than 210,000 people have fled to neighbouring countries.

Public spending to drop

According to a draft 2016 budget passed by the cabinet, Burundi plans to slash public spending by 16 percent in 2016 and hopes to get foreign aid to almost halve as relations with donors have destroyed during recent political turmoil.

Western countries fear Burundi could go into civil war and some donors like Belgium have already cut their financial aid in protest at crimes and human rights violations committed by state security forces.

In the beginning of this week, European Union said that it also would partially suspend new aid due to government abuses in relation to rule of law, democratic principles and human rights in the nation of 10 million people.

The draft 2016 budget passed by the cabinet on Friday indicated that public spending will drop to 1.2 trillion francs ($777 million) in 2016 from 1.5 trillion francs this year, while expected aid grants will decline 44 percent to 382.2 billion francs.

Domestic tax revenues will also drop about 5 percent to 675.9 billion francs, according to the government.

The EU had been due to disburse about 450 million euro to Burundi over half a decade until 2020, but the bloc said it would suspend all new support except for humanitarian causes and projects where the population directly benefits.

TRTWorld and agencies