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Burundi president’s aide escapes death

The Presidency on Tuesday said unknown gunmen tried to assassinate a key advisor of President Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi, wounding him and killing his bodyguard, according to the ruling party sources.

The sources, who asked not to be named, said Willy Nyamitwe was attacked on Monday as he was driving home in the capital, Bujumbura.

Local residents said they heard shots and grenade explosions.

Nyamitwe was taken to hospital, with a wound in the arm, while one of his bodyguards was killed and the other one wounded.

Police confirmed the incident.

Nyamitwe is one of the most public voices emerging from Burundi, an active tweeter who frequently criticises the West for interfering in the central African nation.

Willy Nyamitwe escapes assassination
Willy Nyamitwe escapes assassination

“I thank those who wish me a speedy recovery. I am doing well but saddened by the death of a best friend, the policeman Gasongo,” Nyamitwe tweeted after the attack.

Killings of political personalities or party supporters are not rare in Burundi, which was plunged into turmoil when Nkurunziza sought a third term in office in spite of the constitutional two-term limit.

He won an election in July 2015.

High-profile victims of political killings have included former information minister Hafsa Mossi, was shot dead in July.

Also, prominent ruling party member Phocas Bakaza, was killed in April and opposition party leader Zedi Feruzi, was also shot dead in May 2015.

Willy Nyamitwe’s brother Alain Aime Nyamitwe, also Burundi’s foreign minister, described the assassination bid as “a new, pointless effort to disturb republican institutions”.

Burundi has been in turmoil since President Pierre Nkurunziza announced plans in April last year to run for a third term, which he went on to win.

More than 500 people have been killed and at least 300,000 have fled the country, while several well-known figures, including high-ranking military officers, have been assassinated.

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