By Moses Gisa
Rebels of the anti-Rwanda terror group, Front de Liberation Nationale (FLN), have killed two Burundian soldiers and injured four others in an armed attack on patrolling soldiers in the Kibira Forest. That happened in Burundi’s Mabayi District, in the province of Cibitoke, in the night of this Monday, 20 July.
According to area residents, Burundian government soldiers together with members of the Imbonerakure – an armed militia group formed under the administration of former Burundi president Nkurunziza – were patrolling the area when they fell into the FLN ambush. “The militias of the ambush were speaking Kinyarwanda; the first sign that these were FLN,” according to eyewitness sources that talked on condition of anonymity.
“The soldiers and a few Imbonerakure were on patrol at night when they were stopped by unidentified armed militias who were heavily armed,” said an eyewitness. “The two groups had a quarrel as one wanted to disarm the other and that’s when gunshots started.” According to reports, the clash lasted four hours. People then saw a military vehicle transporting bodies of deceased soldiers to Bujumbura while other injured soldiers were taken to a nearby hospital.
The exchange of fire left many inhabitants of Gafumbegeti, Mushanga, Rubombwe, Mbeya, and Mukongoro panicked, fleeing into the bushes. People fled their homes in the night of clashes.
Observers see in this attack a pattern whereby anti-Rwanda militias are the biggest factor of instability in the region. “You can imagine if under Nkurunziza Burundi decided to host Interahamwe of FLN, but now FLN are shooting at Burundian troops; it’s another wake up call that one can never have peace hosting these groups,” observers say.
Formerly led by Laurent Ndagijimana alias “Lt. Gen.” Wilson Irategeka “Rumbago” who was killed on 21 December last year following a military rout in DRC, the FLN is understood to have split up. One faction, headed by “Brig. Gen” Hamada remained in Congo, headquartered in Kalehe in South Kivu. Another faction is in Burundi, in the Kibira forest under the command of “Lt. Gen” Antoine Hakizimana, alias Geva.
Another source within Burundi confirmed the shooting incident. “Patrolling soldiers were ambushed by Kinyarwanda-speaking militias that are to presumed to belong to FLN. They exchanged fire, which resulted in the death of two soldiers and four others were critically injured.” Asked to comment on the way forward, the same informed source said rounding up the rebels and repatriating them to their home country, Rwanda, is the only way forward.
On 27 last month the same FLN militias attacked Rwanda from the Kibira Forest. Their target were people living in the Yanze IDP Model Village, under the protectorate of the Rwandan army. The RDF foiled the attack, killing four of the attackers and capturing three with their guns, bullets, and communication tools.
According to the RDF spokesperson- Lt. Col. Innocent Munyengango, the attackers originated and retreated back to Burundi through a Burundian army detachment at Gihisi in Cibitoke Province.
FLN is the armed wing of the Europe based anti-Rwanda group CRND-Ubwiyunge. Its former spokesperson, “Maj.” Callixte Nsabimana, under trial in Rwanda, has pleaded guilty to over 16 crimes including terrorism, genocide denial, kidnap, murder, arson, armed robbery, and forgery. Nsabimana disclosed FLN worked with intelligence organs of Burundi under Pierre Nkurunziza, and of Kampala – specifically the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence, CMI – in the mutual goal of destabilizing the security of Rwanda.