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In the news: Grenade blast leaves two dead ahead of Burundi polls

Clashes have been reported across the country as presidential elections loom.

Burundi politician and presidential candidate Evariste Ndayishimiye at a campaign rally on 27 April. A recent grenade blast has raised fears of further violence ahead of the election. (Evrard Ngendakumana/REUTERS)

At least two people were killed on Monday in a grenade attack on a bar in Burundi’s largest city, Bujumbura, raising fears of further violence ahead of a divisive presidential election next week.

The identity of the attackers has not been confirmed, but witnesses told AFP that the bar was frequented by members of the ruling party’s youth wing, the Imbonerakure.

Burundi has been wracked by political violence since 2015, when President Pierre Nkurunziza ran for a disputed third term in office. Hundreds of thousands of people fled to neighbouring countries.

Nkurunziza is not seeking re-election next week, but tensions are rising following a series of recent clashes between the Imbonerakure and members of the opposition CNL party.

In a report published in January, the Burundi Human Rights Initiative alleged that opposition supporters had been beaten to death by Imbonerakure members and buried in secret cemeteries.

Heavy rainfall has meanwhile displaced tens of thousands in recent weeks. Look out for our upcoming story on the elections and the country’s humanitarian crisis.

– Philip Kleinfeld

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