An opposition leader was killed in Bujumbura, Burundi, Saturday in the latest political violence in the East African nation, which has been beset by anti-government protests since late April. Zedi Feruzi, whose body was found along with his bodyguard’s in the capital’s Ngagara district Saturday evening, was the leader of the Union for Peace and Development opposition party.
Residents of the area say at least one other person, thought to be a police officer also tasked with guarding Feruzi, was seriously injured in the attack. "We heard around 20 gunshots, everyone fell to the ground, people saw a Toyota car speeding away," a local resident told Agence France-Presse. Police had yet to arrive on the scene an hour after the attack, which prompted local youths to seal off streets and alleyways with barricades of burning tires.
Agathon Rwasa, a leading opposition figure, confirmed Feruzi’s death to Al Jazeera and said there was not any information yet about who was responsible. Feruzi had spoken out against President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to stand for a third term in office, a move that prompted a coup attempt by members of the armed forces.
The anti-government demonstrations that followed Nkurunziza’s announcement were met with a harsh response by authorities, who launched a crackdown that left 20 people dead and more than 400 people wounded over the last few weeks. Protesters had been observing a two-day truce on Saturday called by opposition leaders to allow for the dead to be buried and for residents to stock up on supplies.
The unrest has sparked a refugee crisis as Burundians stream over the border into neighboring countries amid fears armed youths loyal to Nkurunziza are readying for battle, the Independent reported. More than 110,000 people are thought to have fled, with makeshift camps in Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda crammed with people escaping the violence.