Gunman kills Burundi environment minister Emmanuel Niyonkuru

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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

A gunman shot Burundi environment minister Emmanuel Niyonkuru dead early on Sunday, local time (UTC+2).

Police said they detained a woman accompanying Niyonkuru. The 54-year-old minister was returning home for the night in Bujumbura. Burundi has seen turbulence since President Pierre Nkurunziza sought a third term in early 2015, winning it in a disputed election. Protesters claim Nkurunziza violated a peace deal and the constitution. Since then around 450 have died.

Bujumbura, from file.
Image: SteveRwanda.

Nkurunziza tweeted his thoughts were with "the family and all Burundians". Also detained were two security officers watching over Nkurunziza's Bujumbura home, and the manager of a bar the minister attended regularly. Police spokesperson Pierre Nkurikiye and Nkurunziza both called the attack an "assassination".

It is the first time a minister has died in the violence gripping the nation, which had eased in recent months. On Saturday a grenade was thrown into a church 40 km (25 miles) north of Bujumbura, wounding several. Nkurikiye said the church was illegal, and its leader was in custody.

Nkurunziza vowed the killers of Niyonkuru would face consequences.