World Bulletin / News Desk
The African Union warned Sunday of potential "catastrophic consequences" for troubled Burundi and the wider region if rivals do not resolve political differences peacefully.
One day after the former head of Burundi's army during its 13-year civil war was assassinated, further fuelling fears of a new conflict, AU Commission chief Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma called for "utmost restraint" by all sides.
"This despicable act, and multiple other acts of violence recorded in recent months, illustrates yet again the gravity of the situation in Burundi - and the real risk of seeing a further deterioration with catastrophic consequences both for the country itself, and for the whole region," Dlamini-Zuma said in a statement.
Violence erupted in Burundi in April, when President Pierre Nkurunziza launched his now successful but controversial bid for a third term in power, despite weeks of protests and a failed coup against him.
Colonel Jean Bikomagu, a key figure in the former Tutsi-dominated army, was gunned down on Saturday in his car by unidentified assailants in the capital Bujumbura.
The murder comes less than two weeks after the assassination of top general Adolphe Nshimirimana -- widely seen as the country's de-facto internal security chief -- in a rocket attack.
The escalation of violence has spawned fears that the tiny country in east-central Africa could be plunged back into civil war, with many fearful of pro-government reprisals after Nshimirimana's death.
Bikomagu was a major figure in the army during the civil war which raged between 1993 and 2006 and left at least 300,000 people dead.
Dlamini-Zuma called for the "need for dialogue and consensus to find a peaceful and lasting solution to the current crisis", and said the AU continued to back mediation efforts led by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.
Nkurunziza, a 51-year-old former sports teacher and born-again Christian, was a Hutu rebel leader during the civil war.
That war pitted rebels from the majority Hutu people against an army dominated by the minority Tutsi.Güncelleme Tarihi: 16 Ağustos 2015, 11:33