Burundi: US fears imminent attacks

Burundi: US fears imminent attacks

The US Embassy in Burundi has alerted its staff and American citizens to be more vigilant, fearing potential attacks in some areas of the country. The former central market of Bujumbura (commercial city) and the neighboring regions of the Kibira nature reserve are places to avoid. INFO SOS Médias Burundi

According to the US, all Americans should reconsider traveling to Burundi because of crime, health and political violence. Some areas pose an increased risk to America.

“The old Central Market because of the risk of violent crime, the provinces of Cibitoke and Bubanza (northwestern Burundi) and Kibira National Park due to potential armed violence”, warns Washington.

The statement summarizes the type of crimes that could be committed at any time.

“Violent crimes such as assaults, carjackings, home invasions, grenade attacks and armed robbery have been reported in Burundi. Criminals sometimes prey on foreigners and residents suspected of possessing large sums of cash. The local police lack the resources and training to respond effectively to crimes,” the US Embassy in Bujumbura said.

Although political unrest and instability in Burundi has diminished in recent years, the risk of potential violence remains, according to the US.

“Police and military checkpoints are common and can restrict freedom of movement. Police have conducted weapon searches in the homes of private citizens. Borders may close without notice”.

The US government declares that it is not ready to ensure any urgent intervention.

“These restrictions include limitations on all travel outside of Bujumbura Mairie during hours of darkness (usually 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.). The U.S. government may not be able to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in the areas of Bubanza, Cibitoke, and Kibira National Park including the southernmost portion of the park in Muramvya Province (central )”, raise the USA.

A warning to be taken seriously

Some NGOs campaining in the sector of security ask Burundi not to take this American alert lightly.

“It is rather a nod to the Burundian government, the security forces and the population of these regions to avoid the worst. Significant measures must be taken to strengthen security so as not to regret later”, analyzes Jean Claude Sinzinkayo, executive secretary of MI-RPD (Mechanism for the Initiative for Peace Research and Development). The NGO fights against the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the Great Lakes region.

For this NGO, the USA is better informed.

“Wherever Washington has issued such warnings like terrorist attacks, grenade attacks, armed robbery have followed. So authorities should not remain indifferent,” adds Mr. Sinzinkayo.

A thesis that Washington shares with activists is that insecurity in eastern DRC and tensions between Kinshasa and Kigali lead armed actors to exploit the porous borders and forested areas between Burundi, Rwanda and Congo to move and conduct criminal activities between these three countries.

This Thursday, the Burundian internal affairs and security minister Martin Niteretse described the American alert as a “rumor”. According to him,

“The people who spread these rumors are jealous of the good security situation prevailing in the country and want to discourage foreigners who come to Burundi,” he said.

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