burundi coup attempt
Protesters run as soldiers fire shots during a demonstration in Bujumbura Carl de Souza/AFP

The police replacing much of the army force which had been deployed to control protesters in Burundi's capital Bujumbura, have used tear gas and gunfire to disperse demonstrators on Wednesday 20 May.

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.

In the Nyakabiga district, AK47 live rounds were heard by protesters who had gathered in the district.

In Musaga, a construction work vehicle has been ordered to demolish barricades set up by protesters, who also said police officers have been firing their guns in the air.

"The protesters are dispersed [in Musaga] and in Nyakabiga, the police has made its comeback and the army has stepped back," a source told IBTimes UK. "There is a very heavy police presence in Musaga today, and their officers have been shooting live bullets in the air, a lot of bullets."

At around 06:30 GMT on 20 May, protesters started throwing stones at the police officers, who subsequently ran for cover. Protesters described how the officers hid in between houses and in front porches.

The violence has left 22 dead since protests began on 26 April, but there has been no report of victims since demonstrations resumed on Monday 18 May.


(12:17 GMT 20 May): Reporters describe how the army has bowed to the pressure from the police, and has now deserted Musaga district - leaving it into the hands of the police, whose presence is growing in the neighbourhood.

Jean-Philippe Remy of Le Monde reported civilians saying: "Policemen are invading us".

Meanwhile, journalist Sonia Rolley of RFI decribed how the police had threatened journalists in Musaga district.

"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.

(11:15 GMT 20 May):

Protesters have taken a police vehicle in Nyakabiga district following an incident in which a policeman shot an army officer in the heart.

Police had subsequently withdrawn from the area.

(10:25 GMT 20 May):

Much of the police force has left Nyakabiga III district. Only the army and protesters remain.

(10:12 GMT 20 May):

The policeman shot the soldier on 9th Avenue in the Nyakabiga III district, opposite the Hotel Niwakal.

The bullet entered his heart, leaving the officer in a serious condition. He was taken away by ambulance.

A source in Bujumbura spoke about "great tension now between the army and the police". Both camps have gathered in two separate sections of the neighbourhood.

(9:50 GMT 20 May): The army confirms an officer has been killed in Nyakabiga by a bullet in the heart, reports RFI. The shot was fired by a policeman, the army said.

A source on the ground said the soldier and the police officer had a "quarrel", but IBTimes UK could not confirm this.

"There have been quarrels between policemen and army officers since this morning (Wednesday 20 May). It's because there are divisions within the forces," the source said over the phone.

Meanwhile, protesters in Nyakabiga spoke about a tense situation, where they "are looking over our shoulders, right and left all the time".

On Tuesday, other sources spoke about a fear of widening divisions within the army, which has been in disunity since the protests began on 26 April.

While the 3rd and 11th Battalions are reported to have been in support of the demonstrators, the remainder has backed Nkurunziza.

On Monday, when the protesters resumed demonstrating for the first time since the coup failed, witnesses reported an army officer shooting above protesters' heads before being scolded by other officers.

A dramatic video published exclusively by IBTimes UK also showed protesters being saved by the arrival of foreign journalists after an army officer threatened to shoot them.

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