Thousands displaced in latest rebel attack on Bujumbura

Thousands of civilians were displaced when heavy fighting erupted again on Tuesday between the army and fighters loyal to Agathon Rwasa's faction of the Forces nationales de liberation (FNL) in the southeastern part of the Burundian capital, Bujumbura.

At the same time, the army announced that it had killed 15 and driven the rest of the rebels out of the city. The fighting began early Monday, and has forced thousands of residents of Musaga and Kanyosha communes to flee towards the city centre.

"Rebels infiltrated Musaga suburb again this [Tuesday] morning, they attacked a military camp near the suburb and many residents fled towards the city," Paul Nkurunziza, who lives in the suburb, told IRIN.

The army was reported to be shelling FNL positions, but the rebels were still fighting in Kanyosha at Gisyo and Busoro locations in the southeast of Bujumbura.

Army spokesman Col Augustin Nzabampema said on Monday that the army had chased the rebels out of the southern suburbs and that 15 of them had been killed. He said the army recovered seven guns, two hand grenades and two sacks containing bullets.

He said the army was continuing its efforts to rid the city of the rebels. He declined to give a figure of civilians killed in the fighting.

However, FNL spokesman Pasteur Habimana said six rebels had died and 17 others were injured.

"FNL will pursue fighting until a solution is found," he said. "We have a problem with the Tutsi community, we took up arms because Hutus have been oppressed by Tutsis who have been in power since the independence of Burundi."

He added: "We must sit together and discuss the causes of our fighting then forgive each other and build a new country."