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Police: 451 People Killed In Burundi Political Violence In Past Year

A policeman walks at the crime scene where Burundian General Athanase Kararuza was attacked and killed by unknown gunmen in Ntahangwa commune, north of the capital Bujumbura, April 25, 2016. REUTERS/Evrard Ngendakumana

Burundi police has announced that more than 450 people have been killed in unrest that began a year ago.

Reuters reports that a “report at the disposal of police shows that 451 people have been killed since the start of the crisis, including 77 police officers and 374 civilians.”

The crisis began when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced in April 2015 plans to run for a third term. Despite criticism that he violated the constitution and a peace deal that ended the civil war in 2005, Nkurunziza went on to win July’s election.

A court ruling had declared the former rebel-leader turned president eligible to seek another term.

The police report said 59 of its officers had been jailed over the last year for “serious misconduct”.

Opposition groups have accused the police of violently suppressing protests and dissent.

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The government has denied the allegation saying the police have pursed opponents who have taken up arms. At least, three rebel groups have emerged, one of them led by army officers who launched a failed coup last May.

Diplomats in the country said the violence includes tit-for-tat killings of pro-government supporters and political opponents, and has so far been driven by political differences.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights recently called for investigations into the possible existence of at least nine mass graves discovered in Bujumbura and its environs including a military camp.

According to witnesses, at least 100 bodies were found in the mass graves, all killed as a result of attacks on December 11 against three military camps.

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