Rights group: Dozens were put in mass graves in Burundi

Satellite images, video footage and witness accounts show that dozens of people allegedly killed by Burundian security forces in December were later buried in mass graves, Amnesty International reported Friday.

BUJUMBURA, Burundi — Satellite images, video footage and witness accounts show that dozens of people allegedly killed by Burundian security forces in December were later buried in mass graves, Amnesty International reported Friday.

The news came as unrest in Burundi escalated with the arrest of 17 people in a security sweep, including two foreign journalists who were released later Friday.

The rights group reported five possible mass graves in the Buringa area on the outskirts of the capital, Bujumbura, which has been wracked by violence as the security forces go into neighbourhoods seen as opposition strongholds. Two journalists on assignment for the French newspaper Le Monde were among 17 people swept up in a military operation Thursday, said Moise Nkurunziza, a deputy spokesman for Burundian police.

Journalists Jean-Philippe Remy of France and British photographer Philip Edward Moore were released on Friday afternoon, Le Monde said.

France, which had called on Burundian authorities to free the journalists, suspended its security defenceco-operation activities in Burundi late Friday.

Witnesses described how police and local officials scoured Nyakabiga and other neighbourhoods in Bujumbura to retrieve the bodies of those who were killed late last year and took them to undisclosed locations, according to Amnesty International.

“The imagery, dating from late December and early January, shows disturbed earth consistent with witness accounts. Witnesses told Amnesty International that the graves were dug on the afternoon of Dec. 11, in the immediate aftermath of the bloodiest day of Burundi’s escalating crisis,” the group said.

Earlier this month, U.N. human rights chief Zeid Raad al-Hussein also called for an urgent investigation into the alleged existence of mass graves following the violence in December. Zeid said the “increasing number of enforced disappearances, coupled with allegations of secret detention facilities and mass graves is extremely alarming.”

Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., said Friday the reports of mass graves “underscore the futility of trying to cover up such crimes. Perpetrators of atrocities in Burundi must realize that the international community is watching and those responsible for such horrors will be brought to account.”

Burundi’s government has dismissed these allegations, saying they are based on false information supplied by the regime’s opponents.

In co-ordinated attacks, gunmen stormed three military installations in Burundi on Dec. 11. The next day, 28 people were found shot dead in three Bujumbura neighbourhoods. An witness told The Associated Press that some of the dead had their hands tied behind their backs. Another witness blamed government security forces, saying they went after the victims in door-to-door searches.

President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to seek re-election to a third term last April touched off street protests that led to a failed coup in May and a rebellion that has left the central African country on the brink of civil war.

The Burundian government has rejected the proposed deployment of African Union peacekeepers in Burundi, saying they will be treated as an invading force.

Just Posted

Alberta investing $3.7B to move oil by rail, leasing cars

EDMONTON — The Alberta government says it’s investing $3.7 billion to move… Continue reading

Red Deer College introduces safety app

Safe RDC provides reliabilty and speed

Alberta farmers await Saskatchewan court decision on carbon tax

Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association applaud Saskatchewan government

Halifax fire claims seven Syrian refugee children: ‘Our entire municipality is heartbroken’

HALIFAX — Seven children, all members of a Syrian refugee family, died… Continue reading

Pro-pipeline protest convoy reaches Ottawa after rolling across country

OTTAWA — A convoy of angry Albertans and other westerners rolled up… Continue reading

Historic win for Team Nunavut at Canada Winter Games

Four years in the making boiled down to a collection of firsts… Continue reading

Millennial Money: Make your funds move at the speed of life

Change is constant — especially when you’re young. Chances are you’ll cycle… Continue reading

TSB says improved tankers involved in Manitoba derailment that spilled crude

ST. LAZARE, Man. — Federal investigators say CN rail cars that spilled… Continue reading

Vancouver duo faced health scare while making Oscar-nominated ‘Animal Behaviour’

TORONTO — Husband-and-wife filmmakers Alison Snowden and David Fine had almost finished… Continue reading

Canadian Eugenie Bouchard drops second-round match against Simona Halep

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard is out of the… Continue reading

Chanel: Iconic couturier Karl Lagerfeld dies in Paris

PARIS — Karl Lagerfeld, Chanel’s iconic couturier whose designs had an unprecedented… Continue reading

Canadian women beat US 2-0 to win inaugural Rivalry Series

DETROIT — The inaugural Rivalry Series was created to give Canada and… Continue reading

Don Cherry blasts Hurricanes as ‘jerks’; team responds with his words on T-shirt

TORONTO — Don Cherry’s latest rant about the Carolina Hurricanes and their… Continue reading

Country star Miranda Lambert reveals secret marriage

NASHVILLE — Country star Miranda Lambert celebrated Valentine’s Day weekend with the… Continue reading

Most Read