Burundi minister targeted in grenade attack

Burundi’s Human Rights Minister Martin Nivyabandi and his wife were lightly injured Sunday in a grenade attack as they were leaving a church in the capital Bujumbura, the city’s mayor told AFP.

“A grenade was thrown in the car park of the Healing of the Souls church in Nyakabiga,” mayor Freddy Mbonimpa said, referring to a neighbourhood in the city-centre.

“They were very lightly injured by the explosion and their vehicle was badly damaged. They only had a few scratches and were discharged after treatment in a hospital,” he added.

The mayor said “armed criminals” were behind the attack, a term used by Burundian officials to refer to members of rebel groups opposed to President Pierre Nkurunziza.

Burundi has been in turmoil since Nkurunziza decided to run for a third term, which he went on to win in July 2015, with violence leaving more than 500 people dead. More than 270,000 people have fled the country.

Numerous politicians, civil society leaders and army officers have been killed or narrowly escaped attacks since the start of the crisis.

Such attacks are never claimed, with both sides systematically denying any responsibility.