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Burundi Rebels, Soldiers Skirmish

November 23, 1998

BUJUMBURA, Burundi (AP) _ Rebels killed five people in an ambush on a car in southern Burundi, and soldiers responding by killing one of the attackers, the army said Monday.

The raid occurred Sunday near a commune in Makamba province, about 95 miles south of the Burundian capital, Bujumbura, said Lt. Col. Isaie Nibizi.

Makamba is one of four provinces in Burundi where Hutu rebels have been actively fighting the predominantly Tutsi army.

More than 100 people have been killed around Bujumbura this month in attacks by Hutu rebels and retaliation by government soldiers.

The victims include civilians killed by soldiers on the night of Nov. 3-4 in Mutambu commune, 20 miles southeast of the capital.

Survivors said soldiers of the Tutsi-dominated army killed more than 100 mainly Hutu civilians in retaliation for a Hutu rebel attack on a nearby camp for displaced Tutsis.

The government, which put the number of dead at 56, later apologized for the killings and said two soldiers and an officer had been detained for questioning.

The U.N. Security Council condemned the escalating violence in Burundi and called for a cease-fire and punishment for the massacre.

More than 200,000 people have been killed since 1993 when the violence erupted after Tutsi paratroopers killed the country’s first democratically elected president, a Hutu, in a failed coup.

Negotiations under the auspices of the Organization of African Unity chaired by retired Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere have failed to end the violence.

Hutus comprise 85 percent of Burundi’s population of 6.2 million, while Tutsis make up 14 percent.

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