Burundi president loyalists claim control
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Heavy fighting broke out Thursday between troops loyal to Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza and Gen. Godefroid Niyombare a day after the president’s ouster. Soldiers loyal to Nkurunziza said they were in control of key sites in the capital.
- Confusion reigned in Burundi a day after Gen. Niyombare announced President Nkurunziza’s ouster with rival factions of the army battling for control of key sites in the country’s capital, Bujumbura.
- Reporting from Bujumbura, FRANCE 24’s Duncan Woodside said there was heavy fighting near state broadcaster RTNB’s office and the country’s intelligence headquarters. “It’s clear both sides right now are in no mood for negotiations,” said Woodside.
- Army chief of staff Gen. Prime Niyongabo said in a radio broadcast that the attempted coup against President Nkurunziza by former army and intelligence chief Gen. Godefroid Niyombare, had failed and that loyalist forces were “controlling all strategic points”.
- Two private radio stations were attacked and shut down. This included the popular Radio Publique Africa, which broadcasted Gen. Niyombare’s coup statement Wednesday. The attacks were widely believed to have been conducted by supporters of President Nkurunziza.
- State broadcaster RTNB briefly went off the air, but resumed transmission later Thursday after the fighting between loyalist and dissident troops. In a broadcast upon resumption of service, RTNB station director said the station was now under loyalist control. The station also broadcasted a barely audible message from President Nkurunziza.
- At least three soldiers were killed in the fighting.
- The whereabouts of President Nkurunziza, who traveled to Tanzania for a summit on Wednesday, remain unknown. A senior Tanzanian presidential security official told AFP he was at an undisclosed location in the Tanzanian capital of Dar es Salaam. However, a Burundian presidential spokesman told the BBC that Nkurunziza had left Tanzania and was “safe and sound”.
- As dusk -- and a relative calm -- settled on Burundi, a few people ventured out on streets that had been deserted through the day. Night brought heavy rain and with it, hopes that the fighting had ceased -- at least until morning.
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