In the hours after rebel forces launched a pre-dawn assault on three military installations here on Friday, the embattled government claimed to have killed 79 insurgents in a joint military and police security operation. Some insurgents died in the initial clashes with the military, the government said, while others supposedly retreated into neighborhoods known for their staunch opposition to the regime, where they were later shot by security forces and left bleeding in the streets.
“The people found in the streets are attackers who have been killed by the security,” government spokesman Karerwa Ndenzako said on Saturday.
But as the fog of battle lifts over Bujumbura, the yarn spun by the government is swiftly unraveling. Not only were some of the victims bound and shot execution style, no gun battles took place in the neighborhood where most of the bodies turned up, multiple witnesses said. Both claims contradict the government line that soldiers inflicted additional losses on a retreating rebel force. According to residents, security services conducted door-to-door searches, stole cash and cell phones, and dragged away dozens of young men suspected of working with the rebels ”” many of whom were later found with bullets in their heads.