Division In Burundi Army After Coup Attempt, Rival Troops Battle To Take Capital
Intensive infighting broke out between Burundi government troops and coup soldiers in the early hours of Thursday as the two sides continued exchange of fire to seize the capital, following the announcement of Burundi’s armed forces chief that an attempted coup against President Pierre Nkurunziza had failed, although the claim was quickly denied by opponents of the central African nation’s leader.
But in an overnight broadcast on state radio, armed forces chief General Prime Niyongabo said the coup had been stopped and that pro-Nkurunziza forces controlled the presidential office and palace.
“The national defence force calls on the mutineers to give themselves up,” he added on state radio, also under the control of forces loyal to the president — who have fired warning shots to keep back protestors.
However a spokesman for the anti-Nkurunziza camp, Burundi’s police commissioner Venon Ndabaneze, told AFP the claim was false and that his side was in control of facilities including Bujumbura’s international airport.
“This message does not surprise us because the general has long been allied to the forces of evil and lies,” he said.
The latest radio announcement and the denial signals that the outcome of the coup attempt remains uncertain, and that overnight negotiations within the armed forces — which appears sharply divided over the issue — may have failed.