, BUJUMBURA, Jan 1 – A grenade exploded in Burundi\’s capital Bujumbura as revellers were ushering in the New Year, killing three people and wounding three others, the army spokesman told AFP on Saturday.
"Shortly before the stroke of midnight, a grenade exploded in the Buyenzi neighbourhood, killing one and wounding five seriously," Gaspard Baratuza said.
Government and medical sources later said that two of the injured died of their wounds in hospital early on Saturday.
"An investigation was launched into the incident but it looks like it was aimed at causing indiscriminate damage because it was planted amidst metal scrap on the roadside," Baratuza said.
Security had been beefed up in the capital and across the country but two other grenades exploded in the central region of Gitenga and the northeastern province of Kirundo, wounding five people, police said.
Burundi has been repeatedly threatened by the Al Qaeda-inspired Somali group Shabab for having deployed thousands of soldiers in Mogadishu as part of an African Union (AU) force protecting the Western-backed government there.
The Shabab claimed responsibility for suicide attacks that killed 76 people on July 11 in Uganda, which provides the other troops in the AU contingent, as Kampala\’s bars were packed with patrons watching the World Cup final.
Burundi is also in the throes of a deep internal political crisis that erupted in mid-2010 when the opposition, including a former rebel group that had only recently disarmed, accused the regime of rigging elections.
Observers say the rebels are regrouping and several deadly incidents have been reported across the country in recent months, heightening fears of a return to the 1993-2006 civil war that left 300,000 people dead.
In Burundi, grenades go for one dollar on the black market and are the weapon of choice for everybody, from politically-motivated groups to disgruntled lovers.