Three Burundi army officers held over assassination attempt

Burundi police had already arrested a lieutenant-colonel and a corporal on Monday, hours before the assassination attempt.

Three Burundi army officers held over assassination attempt

World Bulletin / News Desk

Three Burundi army officers have been arrested for suspected involvement in a failed bid to assassinate a top advisor to the president, according to police and security sources.

The attack took place late on Monday when a group of gunmen ambushed Willy Nyamitwe, the government's top spokesman, as he was returning to his home in the capital Bujumbura. 

"It's terrorism," Burundi police spokesman Pierre Nkurikiye tweeted late Friday.

"Two colonels and a captain were arrested yesterday (Thursday) over the attempt on the life of Willy Nyamitwe."

Security sources named the three as Captain Celestin Iranyibutse and Colonels Nestor Bahati and Jean-Baptiste Miruho, known as Miros.

The assailants who attempted to kill Nyamitwe, the most public face of the government, opened fire and threw grenades on Monday, killing one of his bodyguards but leaving the senior spokesman with only minor injuries to his arm. 

The three officers arrested after the attack are being investigated "for attempted assassination and an attack on the internal security of the state... for their participation in the assassination attempt against Willy Nyamitwe and their links with armed groups seeking to destabilise Burundi," a senior army source told AFP.

The source added that the suspects are former members of the former Hutu rebel group that fought against the formerly Tutsi minority-dominated army during the Burundian civil war.

The current ruling CNDD-FDD party was formed from the Hutu rebel ranks.

The government has made little comment on the assassination bid.

"This is because it wants to maintain the idea that the opposition it faces comes only from the Tutsi ethnic group, whereas the problem today is really political (rather than ethnic)," a diplomat in Bujumbura told AFP.

Burundi police said Monday that the attack on Nyamitwe was masterminded from neighbouring Rwanda, with whom Burundi has fraught relations.

Burundi has repeatedly accused Rwanda of meddling in its affairs, supporting rebels and seeking to destabilise the government.

Burundi has been in turmoil since President Pierre Nkurunziza announced plans in April last year to run for a third term, which he went on to win.

More than 500 people have been killed in the unrest and at least 300,000 have fled the country, while several well-known figures, including high-ranking military officers, have been assassinated.



Güncelleme Tarihi: 03 Aralık 2016, 18:46