Burundian army officer dies after questioning by secret service

Pierre Nkurunziza, Burundi President
Pierre Nkurunziza, Burundi President

The family of a Burundian military officer and police confirmed that the officer died on Thursday after being questioned by the national intelligence service.

His family said in Bujumbura that Regimental Sgt.-Maj. Eddy Nyongera was arrested on Wednesday on charges of endangering national security.

Police spokesman, Pierre Nkurikiye said Nyongera had grabbed a grenade and blown himself up after questioning.

But, a source close to him accused the intelligence service of torturing and killing him.

The source said that Nyongera belonged to the Tutsi ethnic group, which made up about 14 per cent of the east African country’s 10-million population, while Hutus account for 85 per cent.

He said the opposition accused the Hutu-dominated government of whipping up ethnic hatred against the Tutsis in order to divert attention from the opposition to President Pierre Nkurunziza.

Nkurunziza’s election victory in July 2015 after he sought a third term in spite the constitutional two-term limit, ignited a wave of political violence which claimed hundreds of lives.

Meanwhile, human rights activists said Nyongera was the first person whom the authorities admitted had died on the premises of the intelligence service, but that dozens of people had disappeared after being taken there.

The activists accused the government of trying to purge Tutsis from the army.

They said dozens of soldiers had allegedly been arrested, killed or had disappeared since armed government opponents and renegade soldiers attacked army barracks in December, 2015.

The activists noted that in May, a court handed life sentences to 21 people, including senior military officers, who had been implicated in a failed coup against Nkurunziza in May, 2015.

Burundi’s 1993-2005 civil war which was partly ethnically based, left 300,000 people dead. (Reuters/NAN)

All rights reserved. This material and any other material on this platform may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, written or distributed in full or in part, without written permission from PREMIUM TIMES.