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Burundi president's aide survives assassination attempt, guard killed

Willy Nyamitwe was returning home on Monday night when he was met with gunfire and grenade explosions.

This file photo taken on 15 May 15 2015 shows Willy Nyamitwe (C) being carried by supporters in the Kamenge quarter of Bujumbura. Picture: AFP.

PRETORIA - A top advisor to Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza and the most public face of the government has escaped an assassination attempt in the capital of Bujumbura.

Willy Nyamitwe was returning home on Monday night when he was met with gunfire and grenade explosions.

One of his bodyguards was killed and another injured, while Nyamitwe suffered slight wounds to his arm.

Police say the attackers were waiting in a nearby house before launching their ambush.

Nyamitwe is one of the most public voices emerging from Burundi and an active tweeter who frequently criticises the west for interfering in the central African country.

On Twitter, he thanked those who wishes him a speedy recovery.

The International Criminal Court says at least 450 people have been killed in the central African nation since Nkurunziza's announcement early last year that he planned to seek a third term triggered a surge in violence.

Nkurunziza was re-elected in July 2015 in a poll largely boycotted by the opposition, which says his extended presidency violates the constitution and the terms of a deal that ended a previous rebellion. Some opponents have taken up arms against his government.

The instability has raised ethnic tensions in Burundi, whose Hutu-Tutsi ethnic mix is similar to that of neighboring Rwanda, which suffered a genocide in 1994.

Additional reporting by Reuters.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)