Burundi president gives gunmen deadline

By: 
AFP

Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza gave gunmen a five-day deadline on Monday to lay down arms after a string of battles with security forces, with eight fighters killed in the latest attacks.

The central African nation has seen months of violence triggered by Nkurunziza's finally successful bid to win a third term in office, with the government calling the gangs of gunmen "criminals", but the United Nations warning of the risk of a return to civil war.

Nkurunziza said the November 7 deadline was a "last call", as he warned those "who commit crimes to abandon this path," in a speech broadcast on state radio.

Those gunmen who chose to surrender under the amnesty will be given two weeks of "civic training" and then be freed with no further punishment.

In the latest violence, eight gunmen were killed and 18 others were captured after clashes with police outside the capital Bujumbura, police said Monday.

The latest clashes took place in the rural Nyabiraba district, some 13km east of Bujumbura, police spokesman Pierre Nkurikiye said.

Nyabiraba is a stronghold of the National Liberation Forces (FNL), one of the main ethnic Hutu rebel groups during Burundi's 13-year civil war, which ended in 2006.

The FNL oppose Nkurunziza's CNDD-FDD ruling party, another Hutu ex-rebel group.

The UN has warned that Burundi risks sliding back into civil war after a dramatic rise in killings, arrests and detentions, with over 200 000 refugees fleeing to neighbouring countries.

Some 200 people have been killed in Burundi since violence broke out in April, the UN says.

Opponents said Nkurunziza's re-election breached the terms of the peace deal that paved the way to ending civil war.

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