Rival Burundi political supporters in street battles

Report
from Agence France-Presse
Published on 07 Oct 2013

10/07/2013 12:25 GMT

BUJUMBURA, October 7, 2013 (AFP) - Supporters of rival political parties in Burundi clashed in street battles that left five people seriously wounded, government officials said Monday, the latest tensions in the small central African nation.

Youths from the opposition MSD were out running Sunday singing songs supporting their party when they encountered the Imbonerakure youth wing of the ruling CNDD-FDD, leading to fighting, said Leopold Ndayisaba, administrator of Gihanga, a small town some 20 kilometres (15 miles) north of the capital Bjumbura.

"Three young people from CNDD-FDD and two from MSD were seriously injured and have been admitted to the hospital," he said, adding that dozens more were less seriously injured.

Around 200 men took part in the fight, the majority from the ruling party.

"We only defended ourselves," said Donatien Kwizera of the MSD youth wing, rejecting claims it was his comrades who had started the fight.

Opposition supporters, civil society groups and foreign diplomats have expressed concern at Imbonerakure, which they claim acts like a militia force doing the dirty work of the party.

Clashes between rival youth groups have grown in the past month, after MSD leader Alexis Sinduhije called for people to resit the group, with incidents now reported almost daily as tensions grow ahead of general elections due in 2015.

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