Conflict & Justice

At least 36 reported killed in Burundi bar attack


A victim of armed raiders, who killed at least 36 people on September 18 when they stormed a Burundi bar and opened fire on patrons, is tended to at the Prince Regent Charles Hospital in Bujumbura on September 19, 2011. The attackers raided a bar in Gatumba area, some eight miles west of the capital Bujumbura, which lies in a stronghold of the former National Liberation Forces rebels whose leader Agathon Rwasa has been blamed for a recent spate of attacks.


Esdras Ndikumana

In Burundi, at least 36 people were killed Sunday night after unknown gunmen opened fire at a crowded bar eight miles west of the capital, Bujumbura.

The governor of Bujumbura Rural province, where the attack occurred, told Agence France-Presse that at least three dozen people were killed when raiders stormed the "Chez les Amis" bar and opened fire on patrons.

Officials say the number of dead could rise, as several others were critically wounded in the raid in the city’s Gatumba area. Hospitals are struggling to cope with the influx of injured people, the  BBC reports.

Witnesses said the attack, the worst in months, lasted about 20 minutes.

A survivor who lost two siblings and a friend told AFP:

Dozens of people, some in [military] uniform and with Kalashnikov [rifles] and grenades entered 'Chez les Amis' bar. They told everyone to lie down and began shooting.

Gatumba is a stronghold of the former rebels, the National Liberation Forces (FNL).

Their leader, Agathon Rwasa, has been accused of orchestrating a spate of recent attacks in Burundi.

The country’s 16-year civil war officially ended in 2009, but sporadic attacks have continued.

The government has blamed recent attacks on bandits but some fear a new rebel group has emerged.

The BBC reported that deadly raids have become more numerous in Burundi over the past year, since the opposition boycotted elections, accusing President Pierre Nkurunziza's party of fraud.