Burundi coup bid: Fierce fighting between rival troops

Rival groups of soldiers are fighting each other in Burundi’s capital amid confusion over the success of an attempted coup against the president.


Gunfire and explosions were heard near state radio and television overnight.

The army chief of staff says the coup by a former intelligence head has failed. But President Pierre Nkurunziza has been unable to return from Tanzania. His whereabouts are unknown.

The unrest began when Mr Nkurunziza announced he was seeking a third term.

Opponents say the bid contravenes the constitution. Mr Nkurunziza came to power in 2005.

The coup was announced by Maj Gen Godefroid Niyombare, a former intelligence chief and ally of the president, after Mr Nkurunziza left for regional talks in Tanzania on Wednesday.

“The masses vigorously and tenaciously reject President Nkurunziza’s third-term mandate. President Pierre Nkurunziza has been relieved of his duties. The government is overthrown,” he said in a radio broadcast.

Thousands of people took to the streets to celebrate the announcement, marching on the centre of the capital, Bujumbura, alongside soldiers and two tanks.

One protester told the BBC this was a victory after weeks of protests.

The presidency dismissed the coup attempt as “imaginary”.

Overnight, army chief of staff Gen Prime Niyongabo – a supporter of the president – announced: “The attempted coup… has been stopped.”

His comments came after holding a night of negotiations with the defence minister, who backs the coup.

But there appears to be little sign of any agreement within the armed forces itself.

Factions loyal to each side reportedly began fighting each other for control of the national television and radio station.

Loud blasts and heavy gunfire rang out overnight.