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Seven dead, 66 hurt in week of Burundi protests: officials


map_of_burundiAt least seven people have died and 66 others been wounded in nearly a week of clashes between police and protestors in the central African nation of Burundi, officials said Friday.

Giving an overall toll of those injured in the violence, Burundian Red Cross spokesman Alexis Manirakiza said 29 people were hurt in Thursday’s clashes, bringing to 66 the number of wounded since the violence began on Sunday.

Sporadic clashes continued in parts of the capital Bujumbura on Friday, witnesses said.

The unrest broke out after the ruling CNDD-FDD party designated President Pierre Nkurunziza as its candidate in the next presidential election, which is due to be held in the small central African nation on June 26.

Opposition figures and rights groups say that Nkurunziza’s attempt to stand for a third consecutive term goes against the constitution as well as a peace deal that ended a civil war in 2006.

Medical sources said many of those hurt in the clashes has suffered gunshot wounds, allegedly at the hands of police who have fired into crowds with live ammunition.

Red Cross and medical sources said three people were killed on the first day of protests, and three later that night in an alleged attack by ruling party militia forces. A solider was also shot dead on Thursday when an intelligence officer opened fire near a barricade erected by protesters.

Nkurunziza, a former rebel leader and born-again Christian from the Hutu majority, has been in power for two terms since 2005.

His supporters say he is eligible to run again, since his first term in office followed his election by parliament — not directly by the people as the constitution specifies.

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