Clashes between police and protesters in Burundi's capital have left one demonstrator dead and 18 injured after violence flared up in one of Bujumbura's districts on Wednesday 20 May.

Health workers and journalists say they were forbidden from entering areas in which heavy gunfire was heard late into the night, raising fears that many more victims could be unaccounted for.

Protesters who are demanding that President Pierre Nkurunziza withdraws his third term bid in the upcoming 26 June elections, descended on the streets Monday (18 May) for the first time since a failed coup on 13 May. Protesters across the country accuse him of violating the constitution and the Arusha Peace Agreement, which says the president can only stay in power for two terms.

Burundi Musaga protest
Police clash with demonstrators in the Burundi capital Bujumbura on 20 May Reuters

Nkurunziza's supporters argue that the president's first term should not be counted as he was chosen by the parliament and not by the people in an election as is specified in the agreement.

Protesters, defying President Pierre Nkurunziza by continuing to demonstrate against his decision to run for a third term, were on Monday met by heavily armed police and army officers and warned: "You march, we shoot".

18 injured, one dead

Protesters gathered behind barricades in the Musaga district throughout Tuesday, and on Wednesday morning.

Following an incident on Wednesday morning during which a army officer was hit in the chest by a round fired by police - an incident that could inflame tensions between different wings of the security forces - the police subsequently withdrew from the area, where the army was in charge of dispersing the protesters.

Protesters took a police vehicle, which had been entrusted to the army, leading both sides to agree on a "ceasefire" at around midday.

Later on in the afternoon, the army bowed to the pressure from the police and deserted Musaga district, leaving it in the hands of the police, whose presence grew in the neighbourhood after re-enforcement was called in.

The police, replacing much of the army force, used tear gas and gunfire to disperse demonstrators in the Musaga district, but the violence moved further inside the neighbourhood during the night.

At 5pm (local time), the Croix Rouge had been called to treat 14 injured on the ground, and transported another 6 in a critical state.

"The police were looking to penetrate in people's homes, there were a lot of gunshots fired in the evening and well into the night," a man from Musaga told IBTimes UK on Thursday morning (21 May). "This morning, we have been making an inventory of the damage committed by the police."

Burundi Musaga protest
Soldiers clear a barricade during a protest in Musaga, in Burundi's capital Bujumbura on 20 May Reuters

The source, whose identity has been withheld, explained protesters in Musaga allegedly took five policemen hostage during the night, which they claim was to obtain negotiations.

"It was a way for them (protesters) to refuse that they were attacked until late at night. They just wanted the police to leave them alone."

IBTimes UK could not confirm these claims at the time of publication.

No access to victims, says Croix Rouge

Aid agency Croix Rouge spokesman, Alexis Manirakiza, confirmed there had been one death, but explained many more casualties could be expected.

After 5pm, Manirakiza explained, neither the Croix Rouge nor the journalists on the ground were able to penetrate inside of Musaga.

"We only know how many victims and injured there were up to 5pm. After that, we don't know about the evening cases," Manirakiza told IBTimes UK on Thursday morning. "We know that the violence continued in the commune of Musaga."

Journalists banned

A source in Musaga also told IBTimes UK that journalists had not been able to access some parts of the district, despite sustained gunfire being heard during the evening and into the night.

Journalist Sonia Rolley of RFI decribed how the police had threatened journalists in Musaga district in the afternoon.

"Leave this place or we are going to shoot you with the protesters," Rolley reported the police as saying. She added an officer had told her: "If you don't go away, we will bury you".

Police officers have also forbidden the media from going through an area in the district, from which Rolley said she could hear bursts of machine gun fire.

"The operation is happening behind closed doors," she said.

The Croix Rouge on Thursday morning dispersed a team to Musaga, where it is hoping to help victims from the night's clashes, its spokesman said.


(12:01am 21 May):

Eight people have been injured so far in the capital following the clashes on Thursday, and two people have been killed.

One man was killed in Musaga, the other perished in Ngagara (near the Parliament), aid agency Croix Rouge spokesman, Alexis Manirakiza confirmed.

He added there was no further information regarding Wednesday night's victim in Musaga, "because the area was inaccessible".

(11:00am 21 May):

One man was killed in front of the Parliamentbuilding in Ngagara in the centre of Bujumbura.

Protesters told IBTimes UK the man had been killed by shots fired by members of the Presidential Guard (Agents de Protection des Institutions, API) "for distributing water to protesters".

He suffered a gunshot wound to the head.

Meanwhile, the Presidency posted a picture of the new cabinet.

More to follow...

(10:12am 21 May):

Protesters have now left the centre of town, after having been met by police, a source said.

Between 300 and 400 people had moved into the capital's centre but then scattered away, the source, who is currently hiding in the town centre, said.

Meanwhile, police has asked a number of shops to close, as they claim clients could be some of the women's groups protesters.

According to Sonia Rolley of RFI, police officers have thrown tear gas canisters on another group of women in front of a shop on the Place de l'Independance, in the town's centre.

(9:34am 21 May):

Groups of protesters have moved into the centre of town.

Bujumbura protests
Protesters near the Bancobu (Banque Commerciale du Burundi) in the centre of town in Bujumbura      Igor Ndarison IBTimes UK

Gunfire was heard at Kigobe district in Bujumbura near the country's Parliament, where new ministers are taking oath, witnesses have said.

Following a cabinet reshuffle on 18 May, President Nkurunziza signed a decree to appoint three new ministers, including Alain Aime Nyamitwe - the brothers of Nkurunziza's adviser, Willy Nyamitwe - who was appointed as the new External Relations and International Cooperation Minister, replacing Laurent Kavakure.

Emmanuel Ntahomvukiye, a civilian, also became the new Defense and War Veterans Minister, replacing Major General Pontien Gaciyubwenge.

Finally, Irina Inantore was appointed Minister for Commerce, Industry, Posts and Tourism, replacing Marie Rose Nizigiyimana.

Bujumbura Musaga protests
Protesters in the streets near Cafe Gourmand, in the centre of Bujumbura on 21 May 2015 IBTimes UK

More scuffles are reported in Musaga, where a source said the windows on his car and those of his work place had been hit, near a place nicknamed Chez Vyisi.

Bullet impact violence Musaga
A local resident's car impacted by a police bullet near a place nicknamed Chez Vyisi in Musaga district, in Burundi's capital Bujumbura. IBTimes UK

(9:10am 21 May):

Local sources report gunfire heard in Musaga.

Similarly to yesterday's events, a group of policemen have now replaced an army position in Kinanira, near Musaga.

(9:00am 21 May):

Groups of protesters have moved from the districts into the city centre, where women's groups plan to stage a protest on Thursday.