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Rebels held, arms seized in Burundi

Director of Kenya National Point on Small Arms and Light Weapons William Sayia says more effort is being made to reduce the numbers of illegal arms in the hands of civilians which have been attributed to insecurity experienced in most parts of the country/FILE

Rebels held, arms seized in Burundi/FILE

BUJUMBURA, Jul 13- Security forces in Burundi said Monday they have arrested around 100 suspected rebels and seized a number of weapons in a crackdown ahead of next week’s presidential elections.

Police and local officials said the weapons — 30 assault rifles and ammunition — were captured in the northeastern province of Muyinga. Provincial governor Aline Maniratunga said around 30 supporters of opposition leader Agathon Rwasa were arrested in the operation.

A former rebel leader, Rwasa is now the main opponent of Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza, whose bid to stand for a third consecutive five year term despite a constitutional two term limit has sparked months of civil unrest and an attempted coup in mid May.

Police also said more than 80 arrests were also made in northern Burundi following clashes on Friday near the border with Rwanda.

Burundian rebel general Leonard Ngendakumana — who took part in the failed coup in May to topple Nkurunziza — said rebel soldiers were involved in the fighting.

Over 70 people have been killed in more than two months of anti-Nkurunziza protests, with over 158,000 refugees fleeing to neighbouring countries, according to the United Nations.

Opposition groups say Nkurunziza’s re-election bid is unconstitutional and a violation of a peace deal that ended a dozen years of civil war in 2006.

There are fears the current crisis could plunge the impoverished, landlocked country back into civil war.

Parliamentary polls, in which Nkurunziza’s ruling CNDD-FDD scored a widely-expected landslide win, were held on May 29 but boycotted by the opposition and internationally condemned.

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Presidential elections are scheduled for July 21.

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