, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 11 – Kenya Airways has cancelled flights to Bujumbura, Burundi due to halted operations at the international airport.
The airline said flights KQ 448, KQ 444 and KQ 466 would not operate into Bujumbura due to fighting that kept all airport personnel away from their workstations, making it difficult to access the airport.
“Kenya Airways wishes to thank all its guests for their patience and continued support and assure them that their safety is paramount,” the airline said in a statement.
Customers with queries have been asked to contact the airline’s 24-hour contact centre on +254 20 327 4747 or email [email protected]
Trouble started when heavily-armed gunmen launched coordinated assaults on three army barracks in the Burundian capital Friday, leaving at least a dozen dead in the worst unrest since a failed May coup.
Army spokesman Colonel Gaspard Baratuza claimed that 12 attackers were killed and 21 captured while five soldiers were wounded, following the early morning assaults on a base at Ngagara and a military training college in the capital, as well as another base at Mujejuru, 40 kilometres (25 miles) outside the city.
Baratuza said the attackers aimed “to stock up on weapons and ammunition”.
“The army has defeated them seriously,” the spokesman said, while Bujumbura residents reported continuing gunfire into the afternoon.
Clashes continued throughout the day in different parts of the capital with witnesses describing heavy firing, including artillery, lasting several hours at the military locations.
Friday’s firefights are the heaviest since a failed coup in May, sparked by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term, which he later won in disputed elections in July.
Months of street protests have devolved into regular armed attacks with gunfire disrupting the nights and dead bodies appearing on city streets almost every day.
Attacks on security forces have escalated with frequent ambushes of police convoys by rebels armed with assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars aimed at government installations.
Eight months of unrest has claimed the lives of at least 240 people so far while more than 200,000 have left for neighbouring countries, according to the UN.