The movement of armed rebels into Burundi from Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) continued in January, contributing to a volatile security situation throughout the month, according to humanitarian sources in the capital, Bujumbura.
Reports of such incursions were received from the border communes of the provinces of Bubanza, Bujumbura Rural, Makamba, Rutana, Ruyigi and Cankuzo, between 8 and 15 January. During the last week of the month, skirmishes between Burundi government security forces and an armed group (which had reportedly crossed over from the DRC) took place only 15 km south of Bujumbura, resulting in fatal casualties, including civilians.
In the provinces of Bubanza and Cibitoke and in Bujumbura Rural, particularly in areas close to Tenga and Kibira forests, movements of armed groups continued throughout the month, sources in Burundi told IRIN.
This had resulted in an increased likelihood of ambushes on the national routes RN5 and RN9, such that on the RN5 in Cibitoke alone, six ambushes were recorded during the three last weeks of January, resulting in six deaths and some 10 wounded, they said.
In order to drive rebels of the Forces nationales pour la liberation (FNL) out of Tenga and Kibira forests, the Burundian government military used heavy artillery and later employed bulldozers to destroy any existing rebel fighting structures, according to informed sources.
These military operations had caused major temporary population displacement movements within Bujumbura Rural and into Bujumbura Mairie. In response, the army distributed firearms to sections of the population in the outskirts of Bujumbura in mid-January, they added.