FBI to help investigate Burundi activist murder

BUJUMBURA, April 22 (Reuters) - U.S. FBI agents will help investigate the murder of a Burundi anti-graft activist, a statement by the U.S. embassy in the central African state said.

Ernest Manirumva, deputy chairman of a Burundi corruption watchdog known as OLUCOME, was killed two weeks ago by unidentified men who stabbed him in the head.

"The United States accepted to offer the government of Burundi the assistance of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation in gathering evidence and identifying the persons responsible for this terrible crime," the statement said.

FBI personnel based in Nairobi will travel to Bujumbura for the investigation, said the statement, seen by Reuters on Wednesday.

The European Union has deplored the killing of Manirumva and urged Burundi's government to launch an independent inquiry.

OLUCOME, often critical of Burundi authorities, targets allegations of bribery in government and business.

Its latest report said 24 billion francs ($20 million) was lost in 2008 through corruption and unfair tendering process, in which state officials were involved.

The body says 236 billion francs were lost in the past five years through thousands of corruption and embezzlement cases. (Reporting by Patrick Nduwimana)