Burundi

Burundi rebels kill 300 civilians in 2 months-radio

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By Patrick Nduwimana

BUJUMBURA, July 31 (Reuters) - Burundi's last remaining rebel group has killed 300 civilians in the past two months, a radio station said, a blow to otherwise good progress in the plan to end the central African nation's 12-year civil war.

The Burundian army says the Hutu rebel group, Forces for National Liberation (FNL), has killed 100 civilians in the past month.

The Burundian station African Public Radio (RPA) quoted local officials and other sources for the toll of 300, and said three mass graves had been found in the western province of Bujumbura Rural, an FNL stronghold, and the northwestern province of Bubanza.

The FNL said it had killed many people but most of them were its enemies. It also accused the army of killing many innocent civilians when carrying out raids against the rebels.

"But there are also people who are sent by the army with a mission of eliminating our fighters by giving them poison," FNL spokesman Pasteur Habimana told Reuters.

"Those are our enemies. We kill them when we catch them."

Army spokesman Adolphe Manirakiza said the FNL had killed about 100 civilians over the past month.

"Some of them are killed because the FNL accuses them of collaborating with national defence forces, and others are assassinated simply because they have deserted the movement," he said.

The hardline FNL is the only rebel movement still fighting Burundi's government.

The mountainous tea- and coffee-growing country has held a series of democratic polls this year that will culminate in the election of a president on Aug. 19, part of a U.N.-backed plan to end an ethnic civil war that has killed 300,000 since 1993.

But analysts say there will be no real peace until the FNL can be brought into the peace process.

Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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