Burundi arrests terrorism suspect

2010-07-29 09:13

Bujumbura - Burundi police arrested a Croatian tourist in the capital Bujumbura for suspected links to an Islamist extremist group, he told AFP on Wednesday.

"On Sunday I was walking around the city, I saw the magnificent Bujumbura cathedral, I took pictures of it and a policeman arrived, arrested me and took me to the police station," said Vladimir Splajt, a 53-year-old lawyer.

Police detained Splajt until Tuesday "in appalling conditions, without anything to eat", and then searched his hotel room where, since Tuesday, six officers had kept him under strict surveillance, he said.

Burundi police confirmed Splajt's arrest and said he would be released without charge while the investigation continued.

"This man is suspected of having links to terrorism, as we know the Regina Mundi cathedral in Bujumbura is among the potential targets of the Shebaab," a source from the Burundi secret services said.

The Shebaab, an Islamist extremist group that controls most of central and western Somalia, claimed responsibility for attacks in Uganda's capital on July 11 that killed 76 people gathered to watch the World Cup final.

The group has made several threats against Uganda and Burundi for their contribution to an African Union peacekeeping force that has been fighting the Shebaab in Somalia since May 2009.

Following the attacks in Uganda, the African Union said it would reinforce the AU peacekeeping mission in Somalia to counter the Shebaab insurgents.