November 29, 2015 / 2:33 PM / 3 years ago

Attackers wound senior Burundi army officer: witnesses

NAIROBI (Reuters) - A senior army officer was wounded in an attack by unidentified gunmen in Burundi at the weekend on his way to the capital, witnesses said on Sunday, the latest in a series of shootings targeting top officials.

Violence has racked the African nation for months since President Pierre Nkurunziza said he would run for a third term in office and then went on to win a disputed election in July.

The capital Bujumbura and surrounding area has been the focus for a spate of shootings and assassination attempts. Western powers and African neighbors worry Burundi, which emerged from a civil war in 2005, could slide back into ethnic conflict.

In the latest incident late on Saturday, Colonel Serges Kabanyura, the military commander for one of five regions of Burundi who previously served in a brigade protecting the president, was injured with five soldiers, a soldier who witnessed the attack told Reuters.

“About five persons armed with rifles and dressed in military uniforms stopped us while heading to Bujumbura city. When they saw that we were soldiers they shot at us injuring five of us and, as we shot back, they fled,” said the soldier, speaking from hospital in Bujumbura.

Two other soldiers from the scene gave similar accounts.

The army spokesman could not be reached for comment.

On Friday, attackers shot at a lawmaker from the ruling party as he drove to parliament, killing one police officer and wounding others.

Till now, rival camps have broadly divided along political lines, but experts say the longer the crisis continues the more chance old ethnic rifts will emerge.

The 12-year civil war pitted rebel groups of the Hutu majority against the army which was at the time led by the Tutsi minority. Nkurunziza led one of the main Hutu rebel groups.

Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Ros Russell

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