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Burundi Red Cross: 6 killed in anti-president protests

Burundian riot police officers run after protesters in Musaga, on the ourskirts of Bujumbura, on April 27, 2015. AFP PHOTO / SIMON MAINA

BUJUMBURA, Burundi: At least six people have been killed in clashes between police and civilians demonstrating against the Burundian president's bid for a third term, a spokesman for the Burundi Red Cross said on Monday, as hundreds continued to protest in the capital despite a heavy military presence.

Three people were killed in clashes with the police on Sunday and three others died of their injuries overnight, Alexis Manirakiza told The Associated Press by phone from Bujumbura, Burundi's capital.

Seven more people had been wounded, he said.

The security forces are using tear gas, water cannon and gun shot to break up any gatherings in Bujumbura, said Carina Tertsakian, a Rwanda researcher for Human Rights Watch. The military has prevented protesters from getting to the city center. The independent radio station known as RPA was closed on Monday, she said.

Rights activist Pierre Claver Mbonimpa was arrested and "roughed up," said Tertsakian.

Bujumbura has been hit by protests since Sunday after the ruling party nominated President Pierre Nkurunziza for another term, which many say is unconstitutional.

Hundreds of demonstrators erected barricades and set tires alight on Monday. The military was deployed after violent clashes on Sunday.

Presidential elections are scheduled for June 26 and political tensions have been rising since January.

"I will stop coming to the road when the president says he has abandoned (the third term bid)," said demonstrator Flaurice Nkurunzinza.

More than 250,000 people died in Burundi's civil war between Hutu rebels and a Tutsi-dominated army. The war ended in 2003.

Those who oppose Nkurunziza, an ethnic Hutu, running for a third term include members of his own party, lawmakers, the clergy, student groups and civil society.

More than 20,000 Burundians have fled to neighboring Rwanda, alleging pressure to support Nkurunziza's party and violence by the party's youth wing, known as Imbonerakure. Another 4,000 Burundians are sheltering in Congo, according to the U.N. refugee agency.

Human Rights Watch has accused the Imbonerakure of committing serious rights abuses.

 

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