Burundi police shoot at students protesting against colleagues’ arrest

Burundi police shoot at students protesting against colleagues' arrest

Police in Burundi shot and wounded a student and a taxi-driver on Friday during a protest by schoolchildren against the arrest of their colleagues for defacing President Pierre Nkurunziza’s portrait, students and residents.

The incident took place in Muramvya province, about 50 km (30 miles) east of the capital Bujumbura. The schoolchildren, aged between 12 and 17-years-old, were marching on the highway between Bujumbura and Gitega.

“We were in the streets to ask for the release of our colleagues who were unjustly arrested, then some police officers who were in a pick-up vehicle of the intelligence office opened fire on us, a colleague was hurt by one bullet and was taken to hospital for treatment,” one student told Reuters.

A police officer, who did not wish to be named, confirmed the student and the taxi driver had been shot.

The five students had spoiled Nkurunziza’s photo in a book, a school administrator said.

Burundi has been mired in a year-long crisis in which more than 450 people have been killed since Nkurunziza pursued and won a third term. Opponents said his move violated the constitution and a deal that ended a civil war in 2005.

Nkurunziza’s camp says a court ruling had declared the former rebel-turned-president eligible to seek another term.

Two weeks ago, more than 300 students of a school in the capital’s Ruziba neighbourhood were sent home for the same reason.

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