At least one policeman and a civilian were killed in overnight violence before Burundi’s presidential vote on Tuesday, a presidential official said, after blasts and gunfire echoed around the capital.
Presidential adviser Willy Nyamitwe blamed the opposition and those behind weeks of protests for the violence, putting the death toll at two. “People do it to intimidate voters. They don’t want the voters to go to the polls,” he told Reuters.
President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to seek a third-term in office has plunged the East African nation into its worst crisis since an ethnically charged civil war ended in 2005.
Though street protests and a would-be coup were quelled, almost daily violence has left the country tense.
A grenade exploded in the centre of the capital but caused no casualties, deputy police spokesperson Pierre Nkurikiye said.
Grenade blasts marred a June parliamentary poll, which the opposition also boycotted.
Diplomats worry that the disorder may see Burundi slide back into civil war, a frightening prospect for a Great Lakes region still scarred by the 1994 Rwandan genocide in which about 800 000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed.
Nkurunziza’s government has pledged to push ahead with Tuesday’s election, ignoring calls from the African Union (AU), United States and other Western powers for the vote to be delayed due to growing insecurity.
Officials have promised a free and fair election.