Burundi detains five gunmen over attacks

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Five gunmen were arrested after armed men launched simultaneous attacks near the capital Bujumbura on Monday night in the latest in a series of incidents that have raised fears of a fresh rebellion.

Burundi has enjoyed relative peace since the former rebel Forces for National Liberation (FNL) laid down their weapons and joined the government in 2009 after two decades of insurgency.

Police spokesman Pierre Channel Ntarabaganyi said yesterday that the attackers had targeted police checkpoints, and three of them were identified as former government soldiers.
“They shot at and threw hand grenades at police, but fortunately there was no damage,” Ntarabaganyi told reporters.
“Four were caught in a taxi by the police patrol late in the night, another one was arrested early this morning.”

Witnesses say the gunmen left leaflets saying they will pursue “the fight against President Pierre Nkurunziza’s government”.

Two weeks ago, gunmen shot dead five people in the tiny coffee-growing central African country of eight million.

Former rebel leader and FNL boss Agathon Rwasa is in hiding. He said he fled the country to avoid arrest by the government which has accused him of planning a new insurgency.

Burundi authorities believe Rwasa is in Democratic Republic of Congo. On independence day on July 1, President Nkurunziza called on Rwasa and other opposition leaders in exile to return home and work with him to rebuild the nation.

Rwasa was a presidential candidate in Burundi’s 2010 election but withdrew from the race, accusing the ruling CNDD-FDD party of rigging the vote.