MS Risk Blog

Burundian Police Report Indicates High Death Toll in Year of Violence

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In a new report released by the police, more than 450 people have been killed in the country in unrest that began a year ago.

In the report, which was released last week, police disclose that “the report at the disposal of police shows that 451 people have been killed since the start of the crisis, including 77 police officers and 374 civilians.” The police report added that 59 of its officers had been jailed over the last year for “serious misconduct.” While the report did not detail their actions, opponents of the Burundian government have accused the police of violently suppressing protests and dissent. While the government has denied this, it does say that the police have pursued opponents who have taken up arms.

The crisis emerged when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced in April 2015 his plans to run for a third term in office. Despite criticism that the move violated the country’s constitution and a peace deal that that ended the civil war in 2005, he went on to win the elections in July. The president’s camp has maintained that a court ruling had declared the former rebel-turned-president eligible to seen another term. Over the past year, at least three rebel groups have emerged, one of them is led by army officers who launched a failed coup last May. The violence, which diplomats say includes tit-for-tat killings of pro-government supporters and political opponents, has so far largely been driven by political differences, however diplomats and residents of the capital city Bujumbura, which as seen the worst of the violence, have disclosed that there are growing signs of ethnically motivated killings. Burundi has an ethnic Hutu majority and Tutsi minority, the same split as in neighboring Rwanda, which was torn apart by genocide in 1994.

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