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Wednesday, 30 January, 2002, 17:54 GMT
Burundi refugees burned alive
Burundi refugees
The civil war has created thousands of refugees
Twenty-four Burundian refugees, including pregnant women and children, have been burned alive while trying to return home from camps in neighbouring Tanzania, reports said.


Local news reports said seven were killed on 19 January and 17 more on 24 January.

Almost 400,000 Burundi nationals live as refugees in Tanzania, having fled the civil war that broke out in Burundi in 1993 between mainly Hutu rebels and the Tutsi-dominated government.

Tanzania also hosts refugees from other African countries and on Wednesday, President Benjamin Mkapa said his country could no longer cope and urged the international community to do more.

The attacks by unidentified assailants took place in the Tanzanian villages of Gakonko and Kaziramihunda, close to the border.

The governor of Ruyigi in eastern Burundi, Isaak Bujaba, told an independent radio station in Bujumbura that two pregnant women were among the dead.

Attackers unknown

"There are investigations under way by the Tanzanians and the Burundians," Mr Bujaba was quoted by the Reuters news agency as telling the radio station.

"For now, we don't know who committed this act," he added.


Refugees from the former Yugoslavia were provided with four times the amount of funding given to African refugees

Tanzania President Benjamin Mkapa

Aside from the pregnant women, children as young as three years old are reported to have died in the attacks.

More than 200,000 people have died in the war in the last eight years.

Last November, a power-sharing administration including some former Hutu rebels took office but some radical groups, such as the Forces of National Liberation (FLN) refused to lay down their weapons.

Equality

Rebel groups fighting in Burundi are known to oppose the return of refugees from Tanzania.

"I want the international community to understand us when we say we are tired of bearing the burden of refugees," said Mr Mkapa.

He also demanded equal treatment for refugees, wherever they were.

"We know that refugees from the former Yugoslavia were provided with four times the amount of funding given to African refugees in 1999," he said.

See also:

04 Jan 02 | Africa
Peacekeeper murdered in Burundi
01 Feb 02 | Africa
Aid worker murdered in Burundi
14 Dec 01 | Africa
Rights group slates Burundi
19 Nov 01 | Africa
Rebel attack in Burundi capital
12 Nov 01 | Africa
Students flee Burundi rebels
09 Nov 01 | Africa
UN calls for ceasefire in Burundi
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