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Tuesday, August 17, 1999 Published at 17:12 GMT 18:12 UK


World: Africa

Burundian army accused of civilian killings

The army is accused of revenge killings

By East Africa correspondent Cathy Jenkins in Nairobi

Amnesty International has accused the army in Burundi of indiscriminate reprisal killings of civilians in its low-level war against Hutu rebels.

A new report by the human rights group says the Tutsi-dominated army's primary response to rebel activity appeared to be revenge attacks against a population it regards as suspect.

The report also accuses Hutu rebel groups of killing hundreds of civilians.

Village deaths

In one five-month period alone Amnesty International says that at least 600 civilians were killed by members of the armed forces in the province of rural Bujumbura next to the capital.

In an incident in early March this year it said that 14 men were killed in the village of Kabezi.

But the report by the London-based group also accused Hutu rebels of widespread killings, not only of civilians but also of soldiers not in combat.

It said that in January at least 36 civilians including nine children were killed in two places by the rebel FDD, the Front for the Defence of Democracy.

'Human rights crisis'

The report concluded that Burundi's human rights crisis would continue unless both the military and armed opposition groups were held to account for their abuses.

Several rounds of peace talks have so far failed to end the conflict.

Only five days ago villagers accused the army of killing 74 civilians in a crack-down which followed a fierce clash between the army and rebels close to the capital.

The authorities claimed the villagers were confusing soldiers with the rebels.

The army in Burundi has been fighting rebel Hutu groups in a low-level war since 1993.



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Internet Links


US State Dept: Human Rights in Burundi

Burundi Country Profile

Amnesty International Online


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