Burundi crisis has continued to escalate with the latest bloodshed being that of the nation’s security advisor to the vice president who was killed Monday in an attack by heavily armed men.
A morning routine for the Burundian Brigadier General Athanase Kararuza, his wife and daughter turned into a death trap in the capital city of Bujumbura. The husband and wife were dropping off their daughter at a school with plans to head to work thereafter when they were ambushed and shot to death.
Kararuza had been recently named as the advisor to Vice President Gaston Sindimwo and came from the same ethnic group- Tutsi. The Burundian constitution directs that the vice president must always be from a different ethnic group and a different party than the head of state.
Prior to the appointment to serve in the government, Kararuza worked as deputy commander of the African Union-led peacekeeping force in the Central African Republic from December 2013 until late last year.
“They attacked him with rockets and grenades, his security detail tried to respond but unfortunately, General Kararuza and his wife were killed,” a security source told French news agency AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“His daughter succumbed to her injuries in hospital although the doctors did everything to save her.”
Burundi has been in political turmoil since April 2015 when President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to run for a third term in office, which he won in July. The violence has left more than 500 people dead. About 270,000 Burundians have since fled the country to avoid the imminent danger.
These events have attracted the attention of the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda. The ICC prosecutor on Monday said she was opening a preliminary probe into Burundi’s violence which has lasted a year.
According to Bensouda, who has been following the events closely since April 2015, she had "repeatedly called upon all involved to refrain from violence, warning that those alleged to be committing crimes falling within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court could be held individually accountable."
"At least 3,400 people have been arrested and over 230,000 Burundians forced to seek refuge in neighboring countries," she said in a statement on Monday.
She added that her office has reviewed reports "detailing acts of killing, imprisonment, torture, rape and other forms of sexual violence, as well as cases of enforced disappearances."
"All these acts appear to fall within the jurisdiction of the ICC," she said, referring to the tribunal based in The Hague and set up in 2002 to try the world's worst crimes.
"I have decided therefore to open a preliminary examination into the situation in Burundi since April 2015."
Top Burundi officials have been targeted in retaliatory attacks by those in support and against the government.
Last Wednesday, colonel Emmanuel Buzubona, was killed after a grenade was hurled at him by a group of attackers. Buzubona who was from the president’s ruling party was heading home on a motorbike when he was attacked. On the same day, two armed group members were killed in a clash with the Burundi soldiers 60 kilometers away from Bujumbura.
On Sunday, Burundi's Human Rights Minister Martin Nivyabandi and his wife were slightly injured in a grenade attack as they were leaving a church in the capital Bujumbura, the city's mayor told AFP.
Robert Besseling of Exx Africa, a specialist intelligence company, warned that a year into the crisis, the country stood on the brink of a new civil war.
"Rival sides in the conflict have become entrenched, and violence has become more brutal," he said in a statement.
"In fact, in many ways, a civil war has already begun given the ethnic tinge to the most recent violence, especially in the countryside."
Image credit: AFP