BURUNDI: 5 soldiers killed in coup aftermath as president’s location remains unknown

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Following an attempted coup in Burundi on Wednesday, May 13, the country’s army is now divided into two factions – those loyal to the ‘ousted’ President Pierre Nkurunziza and those for General Godefroid Nyombare, the coup mastermind.

The two sides, according to a military source, held negotiations on Wednesday night to determine the way forward, as the President’s whereabouts is still unknown.

It is unclear how the negotiation went, but from indications, it may have ended in a deadlock as reports on Thursday, May 14, said the rival army units engaged in a gun battle that left 5 soldiers dead.

The attempted coup took place while Nkurunziza was in neighbouring Tanzania for a summit on his country's troubles.

General Nyombare announced on a private radio station that the president had been relieved of his duties.

Police withdrew from the streets of Bujumbura, the capital, after the general's coup statement and thousands of people celebrated the coup.

People trooped out on the streets and applauded soldiers who rode by in tanks and trucks.

But some officials remain loyal to Nkurunziza. His office said on Wednesday evening that the coup attempt was unsuccessful, posting a statement on the president's Twitter and Facebook accounts.

"A group of soldiers mutinied this morning and made a fantasy declaration of a coup d'etat," said the statement. "This attempted coup was foiled and these people …are sought by defence and security forces so they are brought to justice."

Nkurunziza's bid for a third term as president sparked street protests in the capital in which over 15 people have been killed.

During almost three weeks of unrest, the military acted as a buffer between police and protesters who oppose Nkurunziza's bid for a third term, saying it violates the Constitution and Arusha peace accords that ended a civil war here.

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