Ex-head of Burundian army during civil war assassinated: family

PHOTO: america.aljazeera.com
PHOTO: america.aljazeera.com

The former head of Burundi’s army during its 13-year civil war was assassinated Saturday, his family told AFP.

Colonel Jean Bikomagu, a key figure in the former Tutsi-dominated army, was gunned down in his car by unidentified assailants as he was about to enter his home in Kinindo, a southern district of the capital Bujumbura, a family member said.

His killers opened fire as it drew up outside the gates and then fled the scene. His daughter was badly wounded, the source said.

The murder comes less than two weeks after the assassination of top general Adolphe Nshimirimana — widely seen as the country’s de-facto internal security chief — in a rocket attack.

The escalation of violence has spawned fears that the tiny central African country could be plunged back into civil war.

Nshimirimana, feared by many in the opposition, was seen as the right-hand man of President Pierre Nkurunziza, whose controversial re-election for a third term has caused months of unrest and triggered an exodus.

The day after the general’s killing civil rights activist Pierre-Claver Mbonimpa, who had repeatedly accused Nshimirimana of ordering the deaths of government opponents, was himself wounded in an assassination attempt.

He has since left the country for Belgium.

President Nkurunziza, a 51-year-old former sports teacher and born-again Christian, was a Hutu rebel leader during the 1993-2006 civil war, in which at least 300,000 people were killed.

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The former head of Burundi's army during its 13-year civil war was assassinated Saturday, his family told AFP.


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