100 people reported killed in southern Burundi
BUJUMBURA, Burundi (AP) _ At least 100 people have been killed in fighting between the army and rebels in southern Burundi, an army spokesman said Friday.
Lt. Col. Isaie Nibizi blamed Hutu rebels for the killings in Kayagoro, a village in the Vugizo commune of Makamba province, an area where there have been clashes for more than a week.
Makamba province Gov. Gilbert Manirabona told state-run Radio Burundi that fighting has been going on in the area since April 4.
Nibizi said the rebels had summoned the people of Kayagor village, where Hutus and Tutsis lived together, to meet and then shot them all.
There was no independent confirmation of his version.
Residents of the province, who managed with great difficulty to reach Bujumbura Friday, said at least 400 people had been killed in the past few days. They did not want to be identified by name.
Hutu rebels are fighting the Tutsi-dominated army in an attempt to oust military leader Pierre Buyoya.
The rebels claim that the minority Tutsis, who have run Burundi for nearly all its 35 years of independence, were responsible for the death of Melchoir Ndadaye, the country’s first democratically elected president, a Hutu who was murdered by Tutsi paratoopers in October 1993.
Since then, more than 150,000 people have died, many of them civilians caught in the crossfire between army and rebels or deliberately murdered by one side or the other.
The French branch of Doctors Without Borders, the only aid organization working in Makamba, told independent radio station Studio Ijambo that many people in the province had been driven from their homes by the fighting.
On Monday, the Defense Ministry issued a statement claiming that the army had killed 140 Hutu rebels, a report denied by Jerome Ndiho, spokesman for the rebel National Council for the Defense of Democracy.