Mass burial held for 26 victims in Burundi attack

Wednesday May 16 2018

Mass burial Burundi

A woman sobs during the mass burial of 26 people killed in Ruhagarika village in northwest Cibitoke province in Burundi on May 15, 2018. PHOTO | MOSES HAVYARIMANA | NMG 

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A mass burial was held on Tuesday for 26 people killed in a village attack in Cibitoke province in northwest Burundi, just days ahead of the referendum that could extend the president’s rule.

Hundreds of residents turned out at the ceremony held in Ruhagarika village including government officials and diplomats.

An unknown group stormed the village armed with guns and knives last Friday night, killing dozens of people and burning some alive, among them 14 children.

The government said the attackers were "terrorists" from neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.

“Cibitoke continues to be safe despite the recent attack made by a terrorist group that aims to divide Burundians,” the governor of Cibitoke Joseph Iteriteka told mourners at the funeral.

Many were seen sobbing as families of the deceased demanded that the government doubles its effort in investigating and bringing to justice the perpetrators.

More than five million Burundians are expected to vote on Thursday May 17 in a referendum that could allow President Pierre Nkurunziza rule until 2034.