At least 17 people, including two foreign journalists, have been arrested in a late night police raid in Burundi’s capital Bujumbura, a presidential spokesperson said. Willy Nyamitwe said in a series of tweets late on Thursday that officers arrested 17 people in the Jabe and Nyakabiga neighbourhoods, and that they recovered a cache of weapons.
French journalist Jean Philippe Remy, the Africa bureau chief for Le Monde newspaper, and Phil Moore, a British freelance journalist andregular contributor to Al Jazeera English, were among those held. In a separate tweet, Nancy Ninette Mutoni, described as a senior media and communications advisor to the government, said that a source confirmed that Remy and Moore were the two people identified as having “press accreditation” by a police spokesman who announced the 17 arrests on state television.
Burundi has been in political crisis since President Pierre Nkrunziza announced his intention to run for a third term in office in April, going on to win a heavily-disputed election three months later. Rights groups say that authorities have since cracked down on opposition parties, human rights activists and the media. At least 300 people have been killed in intermittent violence during the crisis and 215,000 others have fled the country.