At least five radio stations have been attacked recently in the tiny East African nation of Burundi, as the opposition to President Pierre Nkurunziza’s third term continues to turn violent and claim lives.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) on Friday condemned a series of attacks on news outlets and called on the warring sides to refrain from attacking or threatening journalists.
“We call on the authorities and the citizens of Burundi to respect the role of journalists and the media during these uncertain times, when a consistent flow of information is vital,” CPJ Africa programme coordinator Sue Valentine said this week in a statement.
Attacking news outlets is never a solution, especially when citizens need to know what is happening around them and those in power should be listening to what their people are saying, she added.
Under-fire Nkurunziza who was nearly overpowered by a coup d’état organised by one of the country’s military strongmen, Major General Godefroid Niyombare, arrived in the capital Bujumbura on Thursday amid heavy combats opposing the head of state’s army loyalists and disgruntled soldiers keen to stop the president for seeking an unconstitutional third term in office.
The media has since been caught in the middle and has been paying a heavy price.
On Thursday, unidentified individuals fired grenades into the compounds of privately-owned stations Bonesha FM, Renaissance Radio and Television, Radio Isanganiro, and the privately owned Burundian station African Public Radio, the CPJ said, citing local news reports.
The offices of the popular Radio Populaire Africaine (RPA) had also been burned down, after being hit by a rocket, the US-based media watchdog said, adding that none of these stations are currently operating.
(CPJ, additional reporting and final editing by Issa Sikiti da Silva)
Photo: Scenes of violence and anger in the capital Bujumbura. credit: The Telegraph.co.uk