One killed, two injured in gun attack on Burundi church

By Gavin Drake
Posted Dec 9, 2015

[Anglican Communion News Service] A young boy has been killed and two people injured after an armed gang attacked a church in the Burundian capital Bujumbura. No motive for the attack on St. Mark’s Church, Ngagara, is known; but it is believed to be part of ongoing violence that has left more than 240 people dead since President Pierre Nkurunziza announced in April that he would seek re-election for an unprecedented third term. Nkurunziza won July’s election and survived an attempted coup.

“This kind of attack is common in the capital here,” a spokesman for the Anglican Church of Burundi told ACNS, “but it is the first time that a church has been attacked. Ngagara is one of the places that is often attacked. Often there is gunfire and shootings in the place.

“It was an attack by a group of people. One person has been killed and two other persons have been injured. One is the wife of the assistance pastor of St Marks and [the other] his child.”

Earlier this month, the U.S. special envoy for Africa’s Great Lakes Region, Thomas Perriello, warned that a “regionally mediated dialogue” was needed to prevent the crisis descending into full-blown civil war. It is only 10-years since Burundi emerged from its last civil war – a conflict that lasted 12 years.

Perriello was quoted by the Associated Press news agency as saying that there was still “a window, no matter how small, to get a peace process going.” He added: “We’ve learned way too painfully from the past that you don’t want to wait until after a genocide has started to be doing things to prevent it from happening.”

The U.S. is backing a peace process being led by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni; but so far the two sides have failed to begin negotiations.

The European Commission (EC) said Dec. 8 that its negotiations with Burundi had concluded without satisfactory progress. “The European Union considers that the essential elements [progress on human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law specified in an EU-Burundi agreement] have not been met by the Republic of Burundi,” the EC said in a statement.

“Following the consultations held in Brussels on 8 December, the European Union took note of the replies given by the Burundi Government and its commitment to provide clarifications to questions and to accelerate certain judicial procedures. Nevertheless, the European Union considers the positions expressed do not help to improve the breaches of the essential elements of its partnership with the Republic of Burundi.”

The commission emphasized the need for “rapid implementation of a genuine and inclusive dialogue” and said that it would be recommending “appropriate measures” to the decision making bodies of the European Union.

Anglicans make up around 10 per cent of Burundi’s nine-million population. The Anglican presence began in the 1930s through the work of CMS and grew rapidly as a result of the East African Revival. The Province, which has existed since 1992, contains seven dioceses, and is active in the work of peace and reconciliation, advocacy, education, health, literacy and financial education, and community development.

St Mark’s Church in Ngagara was consecrated onA ug. 5, 2012 by the Bujumbura Bishop Pie Ntukamzina and Burundi’s Archbishop and Primate Bernard Ntahoturi. The building, which holds 1,600 people, took nine years to complete. Its construction was funded by local Christians.