Cibitoke: Heavy gunshots in Nyungwe forest cause panic in Mugina and Mabayi

The population of Mugina and Mabayi communes bordering Rwanda is gripped with fear. Heavy gunshots have been heard recently in Nyungwe forest. The authorities reassure them.

Nyungwe forest where gunshots are heard

Gunshots worry the inhabitants of Ngoma and Nyamihana hills of Rubona zone in Mugina commune and those of Ruhororo zone in Mabayi commune in Cibitoke western province. It’s on the Rwandan border. These people prefer not to spend the night at home. “Attacks can occur at any moment, we started hearing these gunshots two weeks ago,” they say.

This population fears infiltration. People keep an eye on all newcomers in these localities located at the edge of Nyungwe forest. Any intruder must be quickly identified.
As the residents of these three hills bordering Rwanda in the communes of Mugina and Mabayi say, some socio-economic activities carried out on Ruhwa border have been suspended following these shootings. The agents of the Air, Borders and Foreigners Police transferred to this area three months ago no longer work. Their office is closed.

That’s not all. These residents claim that social events such as weddings or funerals requiring the presence of Rwandan relatives are suspended. The latter are not allowed to come to Burundi and vice versa. “Visits across borders have become impossible.”

This uncomfortable situation also disrupts education in the areas bordering both countries. The principals of some of the schools contacted indicated that it is difficult for pupils and students to attend classes while gunshots are being heard in these localities. “School dropouts have already been recorded,” they say. The parents we talked to say they are helpless in this state of affairs.

Business activities have slowed down

This worrying situation also affects the trade of cows and other ruminants in Mabayi market especially in Ruhororo area. One of the elected chiefs met on the spot says that there are no more cattle coming from Rwanda because the border has been closed. “Communal taxes have decreased following this problem,” he laments.

Claude Mbanzendore, a resident of Ruhororo area, says that going in the direction of the Ruhwa River has become risky. “Burundians no longer cross the river to visit their friends and families on the other side of the border.”

Contacted, The Police of the Air, Borders and Foreigners said they didn’t know the reasons for the closure of this office on Ruhororo border.
The people doing small businesses on the border near the Ruhwa River wish “peace should be restored and gunshots in Nyungwe should cease.”

The administrators of Mabayi and Mugina communes as well as the police affirm that security is guaranteed in this locality “Measures to strengthen security on the border as throughout the province have already been taken.”

They call on the population to be vigilant and take all necessary measures ”not to give a way to the enemy ”.

People living on the edge of Nyungwe forest are called on to identify all new faces in the area and inform the competent authorities.

Written by Jackson Bahati and translated into English by
Pierre Emmanuel Ngendakumana