AT LEAST four people were killed in fresh attacks ahead of United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s arrival in Bujumbura on Monday, his first visit to Burundi since a crisis began in April last year.
Mr Ban is due to hold talks with President Pierre Nkurunziza on Tuesday, after meeting with leaders of political parties and civil society, aimed at giving fresh impetus to stalled efforts at resolving the 10-month-old crisis.
Mr Ban is expected to leave Burundi after the talks and visit the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the second leg of an African tour that will also take him to South Sudan, where civil war erupted in December 2013.
“This is a very important visit, because we hope the UN secretary-general will bring his weight to bear on President Pierre Nkurunziza so he finally accepts an inclusive and unconditional dialogue with his opponents,” a UN official said.
Hours before the UN chief’s arrival at least two people were killed and nine hurt in two separate grenade attacks in the capital by assailants on motorbikes, the latest in a string of such attacks, the city’s mayor, Freddy Mbonimpa, said.
Mr Mbonimpa denounced the attacks as a “terrorist act targeting peaceful citizens”.
“The capital had been calm for several days, but these terrorists, as usual, launch their criminal operations to show they’re here just when Burundi is expecting an important guest,” the mayor said, referring to Mr Ban’s visit.
It remains unclear who carried out the grenade blasts, which have increased in the past few weeks. Security forces, rebels and the opposition all blame each other for the killings.
In a separate incident, two people had been killed and two injured on Sunday night in the commune of Gisozi southeast of Bujumbura in an attack by “armed criminals”, local governor Jean-Marie Nyakarerwa said.
A western diplomat in Burundi said he hoped that Mr Ban would also discuss, “massive violations of human rights observed since the beginning of the crisis”.
“We hope the visit will convince (Mr Nkurunziza) to accept a genuine international investigation into these allegations,” the diplomat said.