Burundi army head says coup attempt failed, fighting rages in capital

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By Patrick Nduwimana

BUJUMBURA  – head of Burundi’s army said on that an attempted coup had failed and forces loyal to President Pierre Nkurunziza were in control, a day after another general said he had sacked Nkurunziza for seeking an unconstitutional third term in office.

coup attempt failed, loyal forces are still controlling all strategic points,” said Army Chief of Staff General Prime Niyongabo in a statement broadcast on state radio.

A Reuters witness reported a at state broadcaster had said there was still heavy gunfire being heard around state television and radio station in capital on morning. Another Reuters witness said loud blasts were heard in the capital.

The Reuters witness said private radio stations and a television station were attacked by unknown men in police uniforms. The stations were among those that carried Major General Godefroid Niyombare’s announcement on Wednesday that he had sacked Nkurunziza.

Neither Niyombare nor his spokespeople were immediately available to comment.

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With President Nkurunziza having gone to Tanzania to discuss the crisis with East African leaders on Wednesday, the dismissed the declaration by Niyombare, who was fired as Nkurunziza’s intelligence chief in February, saying on Facebook that the coup had been “foiled”.

Late on Wednesday night, Nkurunziza’s whereabouts were unclear.

A Tanzanian official said he had attended the talks in Dar es Salaam, and had left to return to Burundi. But Niyombare said the capital’s airport and all border crossings were closed.