Burundi: Gunfire, fear as govt dismisses coup attempt as 'a joke'

BUJUMBURA - Gunfire erupted in Burundi on Thursday, hours after an army general announced a coup and the President's spokesman dismissed it as a "joke."

Sporadic gunshots rocked the capital as residents expressed fear and uncertainty following the attempt to overthrow President Pierre Nkurunziza.

"People are staying indoors, not moving," said Gad Ngajimana, who lives in the capital of Bujumbura.

"There was some fighting this morning. Gunfire lasted about 30 minutes. Now there is only gunfire about once every 10 minutes."

He said people are confused and worried.

"The faces of the people -- they are very scared," he said. "No one knows what is going on. Either it is a coup or not, no one knows."

An African Union official said Wednesday that a military coup attempt is underway. But despite bursts of gunfire in the capital, the government denied it's under threat.

Reports of a coup are "a joke," government spokesman Willy Nyamitwe said. The President's office said some soldiers had declared an "imaginary" coup. It appealed for calm, saying security forces are looking for the culprits.

Nkurunziza joined a summit of African leaders Wednesday, who met in nearby Tanzania to discuss the escalating chaos in his nation.

It was unclear whether he returned to his nation following the summit.

"We don't know where the President is -- we are relying on international news," Ngajimana said.

Burundi has closed its international airport and land borders, the U.S. Embassy told its citizens in an alert. Some airlines, including Kenya Airways, canceled their flights to Bujumbura until further notice.

Comments (3)

chanetsa apa inyaya ye kuchinja constitution ma chinja. the guy had served his two terms and now wants to manipulate the constitution so he can carry on. This is what I have always agued against especially for those who purport to uphold democratic values like the mdc t. when time is up, one has to pack and leave the office. but morgan said no and changed the constitution so he can overstay. he will not trust anyone with the role except for himself. ndo inonzi handiende attitude. haina kunaka hama. hatiide isu veruzhinji.

zvirozviyedzwa - 14 May 2015

I we wataura pamusoro pekuchinja kwa Tsvangirai constitution, why are you not talking about how Mugabe rigged elections to stay in power?. Be fair when commenting, If think you are a strong Zanu pf supporter but nyika yakuenda kumawere wakatarira. Look at how many vendors are in Harare. Unemployment rate over 80%. I we uchitaura zvisina basa!

Donhodzo - 16 May 2015

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