UN warns Burundi may return to civil war

For more than 30 years Burundi has been at the heart of one of the most volatile regions in Africa.

FILE: Burundians took to the streets in protest against Pierre Nkurunziza serving a third term as president. Picture: AFP.

PRETORIA - The United Nations (UN) human rights chief warns that Burundi risks sliding back into civil war after a dramatic rise in killings, arrests and detentions in the violence-torn Great Lakes country.

For more than 30 years, Burundi's been at the heart of one of the most volatile regions in Africa and the world.

The peace forged by continental mediation a decade ago is unraveling as President Pierre Nkurunziza clings to power.

UN Human Rights Chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein says almost every day, dead bodies are found lying on the streets of some of Bujumbura's neighbourhoods.

Many of the victims appear to have been killed by a bullet fired at close range. The bodies sometimes show signs of torture with their hands tied behind their backs.

Zeid notes that many of the victims have been arrested by Burundi's National Intelligence Agency before their deaths.

He warns that this succession of unexplained killings is instilling a deep sense of fear within the opposition.