Coup Attempt Fails In Burundi With AM-Rwanda
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) _ Mutinous paratroopers threw down their arms and fled without firing a shot when their coup attempt failed in Burundi, a military spokesman said Monday.
Six soldiers, including four army captains, were arrested and three others were being sought in Sunday’s attempt to overthrow the government, said army spokesman Lt. Col. Nicodemus Nduhirubusa.
The army is dominated by the minority Tutsi group, while interim President Sylvester Ntibantunganya is a member of the majority Hutu. He was never threatened in the coup attempt.
Hutus and Tutsis also inhabit Rwanda, and their decades-old feud is one of Africa’s bloodiest.
An estimated 100,000 people have been killed in Rwanda since a suspicious plane crash April 6 killed the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi, reigniting civil war.
A similar number were killed in Burundi after soldiers assassinated President Melchior Ndadaye last October in another failed coup. He was the first Hutu elected president in Burundi.
There have been fears in Burundi of another ethnic slaughter like the bloodbath in neighboring Rwanda.
Sunday’s failed coup came as other army units surrounded a Hutu neighborhood in the capital Bujumbura, demanding the surrender of illegal weapons.
Residents of the Kamenge neighborhood defied the order to surrender their arms Sunday and threw up barricades to defend the area against troops and gangs of Tutsi civilians armed with crude weapons.
Soldiers and armored personnel carriers were poised on the edge of Kamenge waiting for orders to move against the civilians. Hundreds of civilians were killed in clashes with troops last month when the army attempted to search Kamenge and two other neighborhoods for weapons.
An official with a relief organization, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the situation in Kamenge was getting worse ″by the hour.″ The official claimed the government had extended the deadline for surrendering weapons until midnight Monday.
Nduhirubusa, the army spokesman, said Sunday’s coup failed when the paratroopers went to five barracks but could not muster enough support for the coup.
The motive for the coup attempt was not clear, but Nduhirubusa said earlier that there was resentment within the army rank and file over a government plan to bring more Hutus into the armed forces.