United Nations rights chief says Burundi attack 'dangerous development'

Maricruz Casares
May 17, 2018

Ten women and 11 children were among the victims of the attack by unidentified armed men on the village of Ruhamagara, in Cibitoke Province, 60 kilometres northwest of the capital Bujumbura.

"Either way, in this febrile atmosphere, it is a very unsafe development", said United Nations (UN) Human Rights Chief, Zeid Ra'ad al Hussein. "It may have been political - created to impact on the referendum - or it may have been carried out for other reasons, including revenge".

Local residents have reported the men wore military uniforms.

The attack came on Friday less than a week before the referendum in the country to decide whether to amend the constitution to extend presidential terms to seven years from five.

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"Everyone will suffer if Burundi explodes into violence during or after the referendum", al Hussein added.

"Burundi is awash with rumors, political negotiations are deadlocked, and tensions are rising sharply in the wake of this attack, with many dreading what may happen during and after Thursday's referendum".

Burundi has faced deadly protests over Nkurunziza's rule.

The proposed constitutional changes would limit the president to two consecutive terms but would not take into account previous terms, potentially extending Nkurunziza's rule to 2034. Rights groups say an estimated 400,000 people have sought refuge from the violence in neighbouring countries.

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