Bujumbura, Burundi – At 6:30pm on Wednesday, August 5, Congolese Burundians Paul Ramadhan,29, and his nephew Mechak Ramadhan,17, whose family fled political violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo many years ago, were stopped by police and ordered onto the ground.
There was gunfire and a grenade blast, and the two were dead.
A witness, who was injured in the blast, said they were shot by the police who had asked them no questions. The police spokesman, Pierre Nkurikiye, told Africa Review two armed men were killed after attacking a police van.
Mechak’s father Omar insists they were returning from prayers at the local mosque and had done nothing to warrant being killed.
“Do you know how it is in Cibitoke? Policemen think that people who live in Cibitoke are all protestors. But it is not true,” the father said.
After a short period of relative calm following Burundi’s contested election, the small African nation has again experienced a surge in violence since the assassination of General Adolphe Nshimirimana on August 2.
Nshimirimana, former head of the intelligence service and a powerful adviser to the president, Pierre Nkurunziza, was killed in a daylight rocket attack on a large intersection in Kamenge, the heart of his own support base. His security team was also killed.
The next evening, renowned human rights activist Pierre Claver Mbonimpa, who publicly opposed the president’s bid for a third term, was shot in the face and neck by a man on a motorcycle as he was returning home from work.
Then almost 2 weeks after Nshimirimana’s death came another political assassination. Colonel Jean Bikomagu, the civil war-era army chief, was gunned down outside his home on Saturday and his daughter injured.
Brother Hippolyte Manirakiza, Director General of the Kamenge Neuro-Psychiatry Centre said fear has become pervasive in Burundian society.
“Now people are afraid of each other. People are afraid to talk. When they are driving and a car comes behind they are afraid. People don’t sleep anymore,” he said.
“This is a social crisis.”