By Millicent Zighe
A spate of grenade explosions has killed two people and injured another 23 in different parts of Burundi since the beginning of the year.
Human rights monitors have documented at least nine separate grenade attacks fueled by personal vendettas and political tension in the country. “They generally target households or public places where many assemble. Considering the targets, grenade attacks are motivated by people settling scores or political motivation,” says the report by SOS Torture/Burundi.
The incidents are reported anonymously to human rights defenders in Burundi, who then verify the information before disseminating it under the umbrella SOS Torture-Burundi. Their initiative seeks to document human rights violations in the country and also inform the international community about them.
In February alone, 15 people were injured in two grenade attacks. In January, one person died and two others were injured in a grenade explosion. One death was recorded in April and; three people were in injured in a May explosion.
A man was killed after a grenade exploded on the evening of January 19, 2019 at Ntahangwa commune. Witnesses reported that a police officer and a woman were injured. A police manhunt in the neighborhood resulted in the arrest of several people, mostly youth, but no one was brought to trial.
Ferdinand Hakizikimana and his two children cheated death on January 5, this year, after a grenade exploded at his home in Kirundo Province. Hakizikimana is the brother to the Ntega communal administrator. The case remains unsolved as police are yet to identify any suspects.
On January 27, 2019, a grenade attack on a bistro seriously injured left eight people, including four children. The bistro allegedly belongs to a Mr Nduwayo, an active member of the Imbonerakure militia group, which is linked to the ruling party in Burundi. It is believed that unknown individuals were retaliating against the Imbonerakure. No suspects have been identified to date.
Another grenade attack in Kaburantwa Hill, Buganda commune, severely injured four people while another three suffered minor injuries. Police announced that they had arrested a suspect.
Yet another grenade exploded on February 24, 2019 in Mpanda commune but no injuries were reported. However, property of unknown value was damaged. Mpanda police arrested three suspects in Rugenge Hill, Butanuka zone
A grenade explosion killed a 12-year-old boy on April 15 2019. The boy stumbled on a cache of weapons believed to belong to his father, a member of the Imbonerakure. Authorities arrested the boy’s father but released him without charge.
Unidentified assailants threw a grenade at Nterena’s house in Mpinga commune, Rutana province on March 6, 2019. Relatives reported that the victim lost three fingers. In the same month, one person was seriously injured after a grenade exploded at his house in Gasenyi hill, Buganda commune. Police are yet to identify or arrest anyone suspects.
Three people were seriously injured after a grenade exploded in Rugombo commune on the evening of April 28, 2019. A youth leader of the Imbonerakure militia known as Kajagari was among those who escaped unharmed.
Burundi has been in the grip of a low-grade conflict since Pierre Nkururunzinza was controversially elected for a third term in April 2015.