At least eight Burundian soldiers were killed in Saturday night’s attack on an advanced army position near the border with Rwanda, and dozens have since been reported missing. we learned Tuesday from military sources.
The attack was not claimed and the identity of the attackers – an « armed group » very well equipped, according to the Burundian authorities – remains undetermined.
« The first soldiers who arrived on Sunday found eight dead bodies of soldiers, including that of the company’s commander, Major Révérien Ngomirakiza, » said Tuesday to AFP a senior army officer, under the guise of ‘anonymity.
A group armed with rifles from Rwanda attacked a Burundian military position on Mount Twinyoni (…) in Mabayi commune.
« Fifteen survivors, including wounded, were also found later. But the rest of the company is missing so far, « added the same source.
The company, consisting of about 90 soldiers, was in an advanced position on Twinyoni Hill in Mabayi commune, about 100 kilometers north of Bujumbura.
« Our soldiers were surprised by assailants wearing bullet-proof vests and night-vision goggles, which completely wiped out this position (…) We believe that they are not mere rebels who are responsible, » said the even high-ranking.
This information was confirmed to AFP by two other military sources who also requested anonymity. The same sources acknowledged that it was « the largest and most deadly attack on the army » since 2015.
Burundi has been in crisis since President Pierre Nkurunziza announced in April 2015 his candidacy for a controversial third term. He was re-elected in July of the same year.
On Monday, the government confirmed the attack, which was the subject of countless rumors on social networks, by the voice of Major Emmanuel Gahongano, Director of Communication at the Ministry of Defense, but without giving a balance sheet.
« A group armed with rifles from Rwanda attacked a Burundian military position on Mount Twinyoni (…) in Mabayi commune. The attack took place on the night of 16 to 17 November 2019 at 02:00 am (00:00 GMT). This armed group has withdrawn to Rwanda, « the major said in a statement read on Burundi National Radio Television (RTNB).
The Rwandan Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Olivier Nduhungirehe, denied to AFP any involvement of Rwanda in this affair.
« It is not true that the attacks were caused by people from Rwanda, » he said. « These are unfounded allegations from Burundi, as they have done in the past four years. We have other things to do. «
The attacked position is located less than 10 km from the border with Rwanda to the north, in the middle of the Kibira primary forest, which is extended to Rwanda with the Nyungwe forest.
Since the beginning of the crisis in Burundi, Bujumbura has accused Rwanda of supporting Burundian rebel groups, which Kigali denies. Relations between the two countries are very tense, and incidents have often been reported at their border.