Bujumbura town slept, this week, under a barrage of gunshots and grenade explosions in some neighbourhoods. By Abbas Mbazumutima, Monia-Bella Inakanyambo, Dieudonné Hakizimana and Floribert Nisabwe translated by Diane Uwimana
It concerns search and seizure operations to find weapons, according to the police. The population, sometimes locked in her houses in more than 48 hours, say it is about murder. The most targeted areas are Jabe, Nyakabiga, Musaga and Cibitoke.
The official account: Two civilians killed, ten injured- mostly policemen, at least twenty arrests and three weapons and some military outfits seized.
But the search and seizure operation has turned into a real blockade for a large part of these neighborhoods.
More than other neighbourhoods, Jabe remains in the eye of the storm. Sources talk about a dead person. “The corpse was still visible on Thursday morning,” said one resident of the neighborhood.
“We live on the search and seizure rhythm, there isn’t a week that goes by without an operation of this kind,” adds another resident, apparently overwhelmed.
“Our neighbourhood is completely closed off. Nobody leaves. Police officers are posted at every crossroads, “says a young man from Nyakabiga III, on the phone.
Cibitoke: after a restless night
Thursday morning, after a night punctuated by firing automatic weapons and grenade explosions, the inhabitants of the locality are at the end of their sentences, but they woke up surrounded.
The army and the police crisscrossed a part of the neighbourhood between Avenue of the Armed Forces, commonly known as “Kurya Kanyoni” and RN9 to Mutakura .
The traffic seemed normal on these two lively axes, but sources on the ground indicate that there would be more arrests, on the Nyabagere side. Young people are the most targeted.
Jabe: Long nights give way to endless days
Crisscrossed since Tuesday September 1, the Jabe neighbourhood was entirely paralyzed for two days. All its inhabitants were confined to their homes. Many young people were arrested arbitrarily.
Heavy firing is heard at nights in the Jabe area since Tuesday. “We are now rocked by gunfire. One could believe that it is a kind of distasteful “karaoke “, says a young man living in the neighborhood.
Days are no less dramatic for the Jabe inhabitants: “Anyone who tries to leave their house since Wednesday is sent home with a gun pointed in his direction”, reflects someone who had this experience personally.
So nobody has the permission to get in the neighborhood. And those who are inside do not leave their houses.
The inhabitants could no longer go to the market, they find themselves under lockdown. “And shops that managed to stay open, are now shamelessly looted by police,” says a reliable source. This source added that these officers in these shops take anything that comes to hand, such as mobile phones, money, selling products, etc.
On Wednesday morning, a dead person is discovered in a trench, , near the “Avenue de la jeunesse”.
The Red Cross, which tried to intervene to bring the body to the morgue, is summoned by the police to leave in a hurry. The corpse was left at the spot until Thursday.
When the streets of Jabe are deserted, the police make arrests, young and old men alike, as reported by a source on the scene.
Nyakabiga: encircled by police
The sound of automatic weapons punctuated with grenade explosions were heard in Nyakabiga on Tuesday around 9 pm. Some sources indicate that they couldn’t identify who led the attack. “Panicked, all the inhabitants immediately hid in their homes,” says a young man living in Nyakabiga.According to the same source, the whole area was completely encircled by police on the following morning. Another source indicates that three people were arrested in Nyakabiga 3 on 9th Avenue: “These are Guillain, Alberic and Kiyoka.” Others reported that someone else was arrested in Nyakabiga I, on 17th Avenue. It is difficult to verify this information because at the time of writing this article, the neighbourhood was still closed off by police. This unusual police presence worries the population because the police do not even have led the search.
Musaga: a relentless 72 hours…
Punctuated by explosions of grenades and the crackle of automatic weapons, the nights of August 31 to September 3 were hard for the people of Musaga; an area known as a cradle of the protest against the third term of Nkurunziza.
“Two nights and a day of ordeal,” indignant residents of Musaga, who cannot leave their homes, even less their neighborhood. It all starts the night of 31 August to 1 September around 10 pm when two grenade explosions on the 3rd Avenue shatter the nocturnal silence.A military source reported that a column of men in uniform patrolling the night was the target of the attack by unknown assailants. The sounds of automatic weapons follow.”We just had time to hide in the gutters when two grenades were thrown at us,” said one of the soldiers on patrol that day. “Do not respond with fire, insisted our chief,” he adds.”We rounded the second avenue to catch the gunmen, but we have not noticed anyone.” An hour later, another grenade detonation was heard between the 2nd and 3rd Avenue. Sporadic shots will be heard in the entire neighbourhood until the early morning, before the police come to patrol the 2nd and 3rd Avenue on the morning of September 2. All the pathways are blocked. As if predicting a bad day, at 7am, another grenade was thrown at police who were conducting the patrol. The toll: a policeman and a civilian of 3rd Avenue injured.Between 2nd and 3rd Avenue, all movement is controlled. The police will even force shopkeepers to close. Only military cars are allowed through.That same day, a person known as Come Nduwarugira, was killed. Witnesses at the crime scene say that the young man left his house to inquire what was going on outside when a policeman opened fire on him, hitting him in the heart.Until the afternoon of the September 3, residents were still confined to their homes.