Street battles and gunfire erupted again in the Burundi capital on Thursday as protesters against President Pierre Nkurunziza rejected his calls for calm in the east African nation, an ethnic tinderbox with a long history of civil war and genocide.Reuters was there:
Soldiers and police fired tear gas and warning shots in the air as they faced off against scores of young men throwing rocks and burning makeshift barricades in the roads, Reuters witnesses said. One man was shot in the leg by police, his friends said. Another man, hit in the head by a bullet, was almost certain to die, a Reuters photographer said.
More than 20 people have been killed in almost a month of unrest, including a failed coup, and the struggle to stop Nkurunziza seeking a third term risks re-opening old wounds between Burundi’s Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups.
In a state television address late on Wednesday, Nkurunziza stressed the need for national unity, saying that Burundi’s bloody past – including a civil war that only ended in 2005 after the deaths of 300,000 people – could not be ignored. “No Burundian wants to revive the tensions of ethnic division or any other nature,” Nkurunziza, who has mixed Hutu-Tutsi parentage, said. “The blood that was spilt in the past has taught us a lesson.”