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Burundi violence kills 87 people

The violence includes bodies of dozens of civilians on the streets, who appeared to have been shot at close range

Burundian army official said 87 people were killed in violence after three military installations were attacked by armed men, while the discovery Saturday of dozens of bodies which appeared to have been victims of possible retaliatory, close-range executions added further to the severity of the crisis facing the war-torn African country.

Army spokesman Col. Gaspard Baratuza said Saturday eight security officers were among those killed and 21 others wounded in the fighting. Baratuza said government forces arrested 45 members of the unidentified group that attacked the military installations.

On Saturday, Burundi's political violence escalated further with dozens of people found shot dead in the capital, Bujumbura. Residents said that security forces searched houses, dragged out some people and shot them, some with their hands tied behind their backs.

"The bodies of dozens of civilians were on the street — most of them young men — many appear to have been shot at close range," reported Al Jazeera's Malcolm Webb, who spoke to eyewitnesses in Bujumbura. "Residents believe these killings were a response to Friday's attacks on the military." 

Police spokesman Pierre Nkurikiye said there were "no collateral victims" during Friday's clashes. "All the deaths were attackers killed in the joint sweep operation of the army and police," Nkurikiye said. "The enemy was neutralized."

Three soldiers were killed in the pre-dawn raid Friday by an unidentified group in the Ngagara, Musaga and Mujejuru areas, two soldiers who insisted on anonymity for fear of reprisals told the Associated Press.

The army killed 12 of the attackers and 20 others were arrested, including one who was wounded and is being treated at a military hospital, army spokesman Gaspard Baratuza told state radio.

The violence is linked to President Pierre Nkurunziza's third term in office, which many Burundians and foreign observers had opposed as unconstitutional and in violation of a peace accord. The treaty ended a civil war in which 300,000 people were killed between 1993 and 2006.

At least 240 people have been killed since April and about 215,000 others have fled to neighboring countries, according to the United Nations.

Several hundred people have also been imprisoned for opposing Nkurunziza's re-election in July this year.

Al Jazeera with wire services 

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