NNA – More than 105,000 people have fled Burundi to Tanzania, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, following an attempted coup and protests, the UN refugee agency said on Friday.
Neighboring Tanzania has received 70,187 Burundians, Rwanda 26,300 and 9,183 are in the province of South Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the UNHCR said.
Tanzanian authorities are reporting that more than 50,000 Burundians are living rough on shore of Lake Tanganyika, “possibly even more,” UNHCR spokeswoman Karin de Gruijl told a news briefing in Geneva.
Meanwhile officials in the president’s office said Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza has returned to the capital Bujumbura following a failed coup attempt and will address the nation on Friday.
“He is in Bujumbura in a very secure place,” an aide to the president told AFP. “He will address the nation today.”
Loyalist troops in Burundi early on Friday detained at least three leaders of a failed coup against Nkurunziza, with an AFP reporter hearing the arrest by telephone.
The coup leaders’ spokesman, Venon Ndabaneze, was speaking to AFP confirming that the putschists had decided to surrender when loyalist troops arrested him, deputy coup leader Cyrille Ndayirukiye and another senior figure among the mutineers.
AFP remained on the line as the leaders were detained.
Of those arrested, one was a police general and two others were army generals, including former Defense Minister Cyrille Ndayirukiye, spokesman Gervais Abayeho told Reuters.
Meanwhile, the leader of coup attempt in Burundi, General Godefroid Niyombare, has gone on the run after escaping capture by troops loyal to the central African nation’s president, a senior police official told AFP Friday.
“General Niyombare has evaded us but we know where he is hiding,” the official said, adding he was believed to have fled to a southern district of the capital Bujumbura. Niyombare had earlier Friday told AFP by telephone he was surrendering and that loyalist troops were closing in on him.
“We have decided to surrender,” coup leader General Godefroid Niyombare had said by telephone, adding that troops loyal to the president were approaching him.
“I hope they won’t kill us,” he added.
Meanwhile, the United States issued a travel warning Thursday for strife-torn Burundi, telling its citizens not to go there and urging those in the country to get out as soon as possible.
Burundi’s government survived a coup attempt this week that saw fierce fighting between rival army factions.
It was the culmination of weeks of violent street protests against the president’s bid to seek a third term in the poor east African country.
In a statement, the US State Department said Burundi was faced a “deteriorating security situation.”
It said it had ordered all non-emergency US government personnel and dependents of American staff to leave Burundi on Thursday.
“US citizens should shelter in place until it is safe to move about, ensure that your travel documents are up-to-date, and confirm that air and land borders are open before attempting to depart the country,” the statement said.
It added that the Somalia-based terror group al-Shabaab has threatened to stage terror attacks in Burundi and may also target US interests there.–AFP/Reuters