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One French, one British journalist arrested in Burundi police raid

© AFP / Landry Nshimiye (file photo) | Burundian police arrive to set up a road block in the capital Bujumbura on July 6, 2015.

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2016-01-29

A British and a French journalist were arrested in the Burundian capital Bujumbura while reporting on gunmen opposed to the government in the troubled central African country, police said Friday.

The French journalist, who works for the daily Le Monde, and the freelance British photojournalist were arrested on Thursday afternoon along with 15 others.

Both have covered the region for years and have won several awards for their reporting and photography.

"The two foreigners were arrested in the company of armed criminals," the security ministry said in a statement.

Police said a mortar, a Kalashnikov rifle and pistols were also seized.

Presidential press chief Willy Nyamitwe confirmed the arrests on Twitter, saying he had been due to meet the Le Monde journalist on Thursday afternoon.

The Foreign Correspondents Association of East Africa (FCAEA) said it was "extremely concerned about the arrests of our esteemed and dear colleagues … yesterday in Burundi".

"We know them to be consummate professionals and are disturbed by news of their detention while they were doing their jobs in Bujumbura," the FCAEA said in a statement Friday morning.

Burundi has been in crisis since April when President Pierre Nkurunziza ran for a controversial third term, sparking street protests, a failed coup, regular killings and a nascent rebellion.

The government has cracked down on the press, forcing independent media to shut down and driving some journalists into exile.

More than 400 people have died since the violence erupted and at least 230,000 have fled to neighbouring countries. The UN has warned that the violence could escalate into ethnic killings and mass atrocities.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

Date created : 2016-01-29

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