Burundi opposition official held

2010-10-07 08:58
Bujumbura - Security forces in Burundi have arrested an opposition official, his party said on Wednesday, condemning it as a sign that President Pierre Nkurunziza's government was becoming intolerant.

Deo Nshimirimana, a former lawmaker and a Union for Peace and Development (UPD) party official was arrested on Tuesday alongside a businessman and his wife whom he was visiting in the south of the capital Bujumbura.

A security official who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity said there were "elements to show that those who were arrested, and even the UPD, are linked to a terrorist group bent on destabilising Burundi".

But UPD spokesperson Chauvineau Mugwengezo denounced the arrest and rejected the accusations.

"We strongly condemn these arrests which are a clear sign of intolerance by President Pierre Nkurunziza's government and we demand the release of all members in prison," Mugwengezo said, adding that more than 70 UPD members had been arrested in the last two months.

Mugwengezo urged the security forces to provide proof to back up their allegations.

Last week, the spokesperson of another Burundi opposition party was arrested and detained on charges of defamation.

Series of killings

Separately, the bodies of two people who had been arrested at the weekend were found in a river north of the country, a human rights official said on Wednesday.

Pierre Claver Mbonimpa, who heads the Association for the Protection of Human Rights and Rights of Detainees, said a third person who was arrested at the same time was still missing.

Burundi has recently been rattled by a series of killings the government attributes to "unidentified armed bandits" but residents have voiced concern over a new rebellion in the war-scarred country.

Authorities launched an operation against the armed attackers and say they suspect two opposition groups whose leaders have gone into hiding of being behind the attacks.

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