The U.N. human rights chief, Prince Zeid Raad al-Hussein of Jordan, denounced on Friday what he described as gang-rapes of women in Burundi by security forces, torture and signs of ethnic repression in nine months of simmering violence there.
President Pierre Nkurunziza's decision to seek a third term last year has left Burundi on the brink of civil war. Hussein's office in Geneva said Friday that 432 people have been killed in violence in Burundi since April 26.
Zeid said his office is analyzing satellite images to shed light on allegations about the reported discovery of nine mass graves. His office cited growing signs that Tutsis were being targeted in the Hutu-majority country, which is is next to Rwanda.
"All the alarm signals, including the increasing ethnic dimension of the crisis, are flashing red," he said.
He called for an urgent investigation into the events that took place in Bujumbura, the capital, on Dec. 11 and 12. In coordinated attacks, gunmen stormed three military installations in Burundi on Dec. 11. The next day, wire services reported at the time, 28 people were found shot dead in three neighborhoods.
An eyewitness said some of the dead had their hands tied behind their backs. Another witness blamed government security forces, saying they went after the victims in door-to-door searches.
In his statement, Zeid referred to "large-scale human rights violations" that occurred in the immediate aftermath of the Dec. 11 attacks.
"The increasing number of enforced disappearances, coupled with allegations of secret detention facilities and mass graves is extremely alarming," he said.