In across the streets of Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi, on Saturday, a day after coordinated strikes by unidentified gunmen on military camps shook the country.
The government said an unidentified group carried out coordinated attacks on three military installations.
Burundian army spokesman Colonel Gaspard Baratuza said eight security officers were among those killed during and after Friday’s attacks.
“The final toll of the attacks yesterday is 79 enemies killed, 45 captured and 97 weapons seized, and on our side eight soldiers and policemen were killed and 21 wounded,” Baratuza was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency.
A climate of fear has engulfed Bujumbura after the sound of battle could be heard throughout Friday and sporadic gunfire overnight. Residents hid in their houses leaving only security personnel patrolling the streets.
“Residents say people wearing police uniforms came into residential areas that have been hotbeds of protest. Residents believe these killings were a response to Friday’s attacks on the military,”
“They were shot down by security forces,” said Karerwa Ndenzako, a government spokesman. “The people found in the streets are attackers who have been killed by the security. Even now, security forces are collecting the bodies.”
The bodies were left out in the streets overnight, Mr. Ndenzako said, because the authorities had been awaiting the “proper vehicles” needed to move them. It was not clear whether the bodies were taken to city morgues, or possibly collected elsewhere.
Ever since April, when President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to run for a third term, which many people viewed as unconstitutional, the country has been racked by violence. The first wave seemed to be government-sponsored killings of opposition members and civilians who were protesting Mr. Nkurunziza’s attempts to retain power as violating a peace agreement that limited him to two terms. A coup attempt in May, government crackdowns and protests sent refugees fleeing to neighboring Rwanda. In recent weeks, opposition elements have stepped up armed attacks, possibly as a strategy to make Burundi appear ungovernable. Several analysts have said that the opposition is using the specter of chaos as leverage to force the government into a power-sharing arrangement. Western governments have urged Burundi’s government and the political opposition to stop fighting and negotiate.
The strikes on military bases on Friday were the boldest attacks since the failed coup attempt, and some analysts in Burundi said that the bodies found on Saturday morning appeared to represent a retaliatory mess