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Burundi protests rage as regional leaders prepare to push for peace


Burundi Political TensionsBurundi police opened fire on protesters Tuesday as President Pierre Nkurunziza defied international pressure to end a controversial third term bid, ahead of a regional summit to address the crisis.

One protester died in fresh clashes with police on the streets of Burundi’s capital Bujumbura, while two others were reported killed overnight in a grenade explosion.

The latest deaths bring the number killed in more than two weeks of anti-government demonstrations to over 20 and come as East African leaders prepare to hold an emergency meeting in Tanzania on Wednesday.

Over 50,000 Burundians have fled into neighbouring nations since the unrest began.

Leaders of the five-nation East African Community — made up of Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda as well as Burundi — are due to meet in Dar es Salaam.

Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila, South Africa’s Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and the US top diplomat for Africa Linda Thomas-Greenfield are also expected to attend.

On Tuesday police in Bujumbura opened fire on protesters in an apparent attempt to scatter crowds who wanted to attack the house of a police officer.

An AFP journalist at the scene also saw two other people with gunshot wounds, one of them a boy of around 10, hit in the arm.

In another part of the capital, officers fired tear gas to break up a crowd of some 200 youths.

While the police have ripped down barricades on main roads, side streets in key opposition areas remain blocked, guarded by angry demonstrators.

Nkurunziza, a former rebel leader from the Hutu majority who has been in power since 2005, has come under intense international pressure to withdraw from next month’s election and stand down.

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