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In Burundi, 30 Patrons of Popular Bar are Gunned Down

9/21/2011, 4:24 p.m.
In Burundi, 30 Patrons of Popular Bar are Gunned Down

Sept. 20 (GIN)-Simmering tensions between the ruling party and an opposition group exploded into the fatal shooting on Sunday of some 30 patrons of a popular bar. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

The massacre was lead by gunmen carrying military-style weaponry and clad in fatigues at around 8 p.m. in the Chez Les Amis bar in Gatumba, 10 miles west of the capital, Bujumbura.

"The brutal killing of unarmed men and women in Gatumba is the single worst incident of violence in Burundi for several years," said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

During Burundi's 16-year civil war, which pitted a minority Tutsi-dominated army against Hutu rebel groups, one of the predominantly Hutu groups, the CNDD-FDD, joined the government in 2004 and won elections in 2005.

The Forces of National Liberation (FNL), which is also Hutu-dominated, continued fighting until 2009. Most of the victims of killings in previous months were low-level rank-and-file members-or former members-of the FNL. Those targeted recently have included more prominent individuals.

"Last year's elections were a political failure, and since then, the violence has just been increasing," said Thierry Vircoulon, central Africa project director at International Crisis Group.

President Pierre Nkurunziza has declared three days of mourning.