BUJUMBURA, Burundi, May 14 – Heavy fighting broke out between rival Burundian troops on Thursday around the state broadcaster, military officials and witnesses said, the day after a top general launched a coup to oust President Pierre Nkurunziza.
Witnesses said rival factions of the armed forces, divided between supporters of the coup attempt and the president’s loyalists, were exchanging heavy machine gun and rocket fire around the state television and radio complex, which is held by the president’s supporters.
According to a pro-coup military source, the RTNB complex was attacked in the early hours of the morning after Burundi’s armed forces chief used state radio to announce that the coup had failed.
A journalist inside the complex confirmed heavy fighting raged through the early hours of the morning and after dawn, with heavy weapons including cannons and rockets being used.
A top Burundian general, former intelligence chief Godefroid Niyombare, launched the coup on Wednesday, capping weeks of violent protests against the president’s controversial bid for a third term.
Nkurunziza was outside the country in neighbouring Tanzania when the coup was launched and has been blocked from returning to the central African nation by pro-coup troops who have seized the airport.