NAIROBI (Reuters) - Burundi has dismissed criticism of its security forces, saying they acted professionally after insurgents attacked military bases in the capital, and also said there was no need to send foreign peacekeepers to the African nation.
The U.N. Security Council has considered actions that include sending a peacekeeping force to deal with Burundi’s crisis, which pits supporters of President Pierre Nkurunziza against those opposed to his third term in office.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told the Security Council last month that Burundi was on the brink of war but said there was no immediate need to deploy a U.N. peacekeeping force, encouraging the council to choose other options.
In the latest flare-up, gunmen attacked military bases on Friday. The U.N. human rights chief, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, said on Tuesday the authorities had responded with house searches, arrests and alleged summary executions. The fighting killed almost 90 people.
“The security forces intervened with the greatest possible professionalism,” the government said in a statement late on Tuesday. “It would therefore be irrelevant to talk of bringing foreign forces into Burundi.”
“Those who recommend it hide many other intentions,” said the statement, issued by a government spokesman.
Burundi has accused neighbouring Rwanda and some Western nations of meddling in its affairs, saying they are stoking the crisis in the poor African nation.
In another statement, Burundi’s ruling CNDD-FDD party accused former colonial power Belgium of providing “weapons to the terrorists and medically assisting them when injured”.
Several officials have fled to Belgium since the crisis erupted.
The United States and other Western powers have voiced mounting concern that Burundi, which emerged from civil war in 2005, could plunge back into ethnic conflict, destabilising a region that witnessed a genocide in Rwanda in 1994.
Like Rwanda, Burundi also has an ethnic Hutu majority and Tutsi minority.
Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Paul Tait