The State Department warned Americans on Sunday to leave Burundi in the wake of rising political unrest over the presidency of Pierre Nkurunziza and reports of scores killed in clashes between security troops and insurgent forces in the central equatorial African nation.
The advisory warned that “armed groups operate in Burundi and gunfire and grenade attacks occur with frequency.” It said the attacks are not usually directed toward foreigners, but added that the families of U.S. government personnel and non-emergency workers should leave the country.
Violence erupted in the capital of Bujumbura early Friday when unidentified groups attacked three military installations. The government later reported that 87 died in the fighting. Dozens of bodies were found on the streets Saturday. many of those shot through the head with their hands bound, according to media accounts.
An Army spokesman, Col. Gaspard Baratuza, said Saturday that 150 armed men raided the military facilities and that 79 were killed and eight security guards died, according to Associated Press. It remained unclear whether his accounting of the dead included the dozens of bodies found on the streets of the capital Saturday.
Burundi is one of the poorest nations in the world and has been immersed in unrest since Nkurunziza’s decision to seek a third term in a disputed election in July.
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