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Burundian president accuses Rwanda of hosting RED-Tabara rebels

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Burundian President Evariste Ndayishimiye

Burundian President Evariste Ndayishimiye has accused Rwanda of hosting RED-Tabara rebels who claimed responsibility for last week’s attack in Gatumba on the border between Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The accusations were made in a live program on a local radio station Friday during which President Ndayishimiye answered questions from journalists and citizens in the Kigamba district, in the province of Cankuzo, eastern Burundi.

“Members of this rebel group (RED-Tabara) are hosted, fed and taken care of by Rwanda. They are offered money and working offices by that country,” said Ndayishimiye while responding to a journalist’s question on whether the Burundian government is ready to negotiate with the RED-Tabara rebel group.

“How can the government negotiate with terrorists who mercilessly kill children, elderly people and mothers,” he underlined.

He added that he would advise Rwanda authorities to avoid taking care of the terrorists because they are “propagating hatred between people from both countries.”

According to him, talks to extradite those rebels to be brought before trial in Burundi “have almost failed.”

Meanwhile, Rwanda has rejected the accusations.

“The Rwandan government rejects comments by Burgundian President Evariste Ndayishimiye alleging Rwandan support to Burundian armed rebel groups based in eastern DRC. Rwanda is not associated, in any way, with any Burundian armed group,” said a statement from the office of the Rwandan government’s spokesperson Friday evening.

The Rwandan government rather specified that it has previously handed over, through the expanded joint verification mechanism, Burundian combatants who illegally crossed into Rwanda.

“The government of Rwanda urges the government of Burundi to address its concerns through diplomatic channels where they can be amicably resolved,” said the statement.

An attack happening on the night of Dec. 22 in Vugizo village, the Gatumba zone on the border between Burundi and the DRC, left 20 people killed and nine more injured.

In the wake of the attack, Burundian Government Secretary-General and Spokesman Jerome Niyonzima told reporters, in a press statement, that terrorists had targeted nine households, killing 12 children, three women and five men.

The RED-Tabara rebel group, later on the X platform, formerly Twitter, claimed responsibility for the attack but gave a different death toll. It said that its fighters based in Burundi had attacked the border post and killed nine soldiers and one policeman, adding that its fighters had also seized three guns and several ammunitions.

RED-Tabara is a rebel group based in eastern DRC and has been battling Burundi’s government since 2015.

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