The head of Burundi’s armed forces escaped an assassination attempt Friday in the capital city of Bujumbura, according to local police. The attack reportedly claimed the lives of at least seven other people.
Gen. Prime Niyongabo was heading to his office when armed men attacked his motorcade, Burundi's deputy police chief, Gen. Godefroid Bizimana, reportedly said, adding that the army chief was unharmed. Two attackers were reportedly killed in the clash and a third was arrested. The other casualties included four bodyguards and a female police officer, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP).
"It was sudden and violent. Four bodyguards were killed instantly. He (Niyongabo) managed to survive only because the driver managed to overtake a bus transporting police officers to work, and the attackers could not keep up," a senior police official, who did not want to be named, told AFP, adding that the attackers were wearing military uniforms and came in a military vehicle.
The latest attack comes nearly a month after a senior army general was killed in similar circumstances. Former army chief Col. Jean Bikomagu was shot dead in his car outside his home in Bujumbura on Aug. 13. His daughter was also critically wounded in the attack.
Tensions continue in the central African nation following President Pierre Nkurunziza's landslide victory in the June presidential election. Over 200,000 people have reportedly been displaced by the political crisis that erupted in April when the ruling National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces announced Nkurunziza would run for a third term as president.