Burundi mission murders - 2 arrested

2011-11-28 20:30

Bujumbura - Two men were arrested in Burundi on Monday over the murder of a Croatian nun and an Italian volunteer in an attack on a religious mission in the central African nation, a police official said.

"The culprits of the double murder were arrested around 13:00 (11:00 GMT), they are aged 20 and 24 years and we are sure that they are the two killers," said police spokesperson Pierre Chanel Ntarabaganyi.

Armed men burst into a convent near Ngozi, around 100km northeast of the capital Bujumbura near the border with Rwanda on Sunday and killed the Croatian nun before kidnapping the volunteer and an Italian nun.

The attack was first announced by the Italian foreign ministry in Rome.

Police and other officials in Burundi said they believed that money had been the motive for the attack.

"We are sure that they are the perpetrators of this heinous crime," said Claude Nahayo, the governor of Ngozi province.

"They had with them €4 000 stolen from the monastery, and one of them had been wounded in the leg during a shoot-out with police that night."

Nahayo added that an investigation had been launched "to determine the circumstances of the attack, but we are sure that it is simple banditry".

Father Michel Tognazzi, a Catholic missionary in nearby Kiremba, told the Misna missionary news agency that the victims were Croatian nun Lukrecija Mamic and Francesco Bazzani, from a medical charity based near Verona in northern Italy.

Grabbed gun

The convent was next to a hospital where Bazzani worked as an administrator.

"Two armed men went into the Ancelle della Carita welfare house, to which the two nuns belonged, with the aim of robbing them, and they killed the Croatian nun straight away," Tognazzi said.

They then stole a car and fled, taking Bazzani and an Italian nun named Carla Brianza hostage. The gunmen stopped after around 8km and made the pair get out of the car before shooting Bazzani at point blank range.

"Carla managed to grab the gun, which helped save her life" and the attacker stabbed her in the hand before fleeing with his accomplice, the priest added.

The gunmen managed to evade police, Misna reported.

The injured nun has been operated on but her condition "is not worrying," the ministry said in a statement.

There has been a wave of attacks in Burundi in recent months that are officially blamed on "armed bandits". The popular view is that these attacks are part of a nascent rebellion that is gathering pace.

The attacks have raised fears of a resumption of large-scale hostilities in a country still reeling from a civil war that killed 300 000 people between 1993 and 2006.