BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in: World: Africa
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Tuesday, 25 December, 2001, 15:00 GMT
Burundi army 'kills 500 rebels'
President Pierre Buyoya, Nelson Mandela and opposition leader Jean Mini
Nelson Mandela tried to end Burundi's eight-year civil war
The army in Burundi says it has killed more than 500 rebels in an operation against an opposition stronghold near the capital, Bujumbura.

The army attacked the area around the Tenga forest, used by the rebels for raids on the capital, with heavy artillery and jets.

Burundi army
The army feared the FLN was bolstering its position in Tenga
Twenty-eight soldiers were also killed, the army said.

The BBC's Prime Ndikumagenge in Burundi says that there are hopes that the rebel defeat might encourage them to enter negotiations with the reconciliation government, which was sworn in last month.

There is no independent confirmation of the army's death toll, and our correspondent, who was taken to the area, says Tenga did not show the signs of an area where such a large number of people were killed.

There were no dead bodies around, nor the stench of their decay, he says.

A junior officer said the army had buried the bodies to be able to occupy the area.

More than 250,000 people have been killed during the past eight years in the civil war between the mainly Hutu rebels and the Tutsi-led army.

Citizens terrorised

The fighting intensified last month when the power-sharing government was set up under the terms of a peace deal.

The National Liberation Army (FNL) did not sign the peace deal.

Instead they stepped up their attacks, particularly in the Bujumbura area, and had been terrorising and killing people in the northern suburbs of Kinama and Kamenge.

Under the peace deal, the transitional government, will be led for 18 months by Tutsi President Pierre Buyoya, who is then to step down for a Hutu head of state for the latter half of a period prior to elections.

Hundreds killed

But the FNL and another rebel group, after refusing the sign the deal, stepped up its attacks.

The army waged a major offensive on rebels in Tenga between October and December last year when more than 300 people were killed.

But the military was unable to prevent the rebels from regrouping in the forest at the end of February and launching an attack on the north-eastern Kinama district of Bujumbura.

More than 200 rebels and around 20 soldiers were killed in the fighting then, according to official sources.

See also:

14 Dec 01 | Africa
Rights group slates Burundi
26 Nov 01 | Africa
Burundi's big push against rebels
02 Nov 01 | Africa
Calm in Bujumbura greets new era
28 Oct 01 | Africa
Peacekeepers arrive in Burundi
01 Nov 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Burundi
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Africa stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Africa stories