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Special Reports

Burundi troops battle gunmen in southwest

Troops in Burundi battled a nearly 100-strong force of fighters, a local governor said Thursday, amid fears that violence is spreading in the troubled nation.

Two gunmen have been killed and 11 captured in clashes since Tuesday in the southwestern Rumonge district, said governor Juvenal Bigirimana after a gang of 80 to 100 men entered the town of Burambi, some 120 kilometres (75 miles) south of the capital Bujumbura.

"The security forces went to meet them, there were clashes that left two dead," Bigirimana said, adding that troops had seized mortars, rifles and machine-guns.

Burundi descended into violence in April after President Pierre Nkurunziza launched a successful bid for a third consecutive term in office, despite concerns over the legality of such a move.

While there have been near daily gun battles in the capital, attacks are now taking place in other parts of the country too.

Burundi's government blames the attacks on "armed criminals", but the United Nations has warned that the small central African country risks sliding back into civil war as violence continues.

Burundi plunged into civil war on ethnic lines between majority Hutus and minority Tutsis in 1993, at a cost of an estimated 300,000 lives by the end of the conflict in 2006.

Nkurunziza, an ex-rebel and born-again Christian who believes he has divine backing to rule, won a third term in office in July, in spite of the concerns.

Click here to read the AFP report.

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