Grenade attack kills two in Burundi bar ahead of polls

At least eight others taken to hospitals following the blast in the economic capital, Bujumbura.

Burundi policemen
Burundi will hold the presidential election on May 20 amid the coronavirus pandemic [File: Mike Hutchings/Reuters]

At least two people were killed in a grenade blast in Burundi’s economic capital Bujumbura, just days ahead of a general election, witnesses said on Monday.

The attack was blamed on “unidentified criminals” who targeted a bar in a working-class district of the main city in the small Central African country on Sunday.

Witnesses told AFP news agency the bar belongs to a member of the Imbonerakure youth wing of the governing party, the National Council for the Defence of Democracy (CNDD-FDD), which grew powerful after Burundi plunged into civil war between 1993 and 2005.

The United Nations has listed the Imbonerakure as a militia force. Local residents said the bar was a meeting place for members of the youth league from the neighbourhood.

The CNDD-FDD is being challenged at the May 20 poll by former rebel leader Agathon Rwasa and his National Freedom Council (CNL), the main opposition party.

“The grenade was thrown by unidentified criminals … Two people were killed on the spot and eight more were evacuated to nearby hospitals,” said a local official who asked not to be named.

The presidential election on May 20 will mainly pit Evariste Ndayishimiye, the protege of outgoing President Pierre Nkurunziza, against Rwasa, the veteran CNL leader.

In power since 2005, Nkurunziza defied expectations in June 2018 when he announced he would not stand for office again, despite a new constitution, modified after a referendum that allowed him to do so.

Source: AFP