Environment Minister of Burundi, Emmanuel Niyonkuru, was shot and killed on Sunday (1 January) in capital Bujumbura. Police said that an unidentified gunman fired at the minister.

Police spokesperson Pierre Nkurikiye said in a tweet that the 54-year-old minister was "killed by a criminal with a gun [while he was] on his way home to Rohero, around 00:45", and added that one woman, who cwas has been arrested in connection with the murder.

Soon after the incident, the country's President Pierre Nkurunzizaalso took to Twitter and offered his condolences to the deceased minister's family. He said, "Minister Emmanuel Niyonkuru was assassinated last night. Condolences to the family and all Burundians. This crime will not go unpunished."

Niyonkuru's assassination is the first of a sitting government official since Burundi sank into political chaos in 2015 over President Nkurunziza's bid to contest elections for a third time. The opposition party had claimed that his move is in violation of the constitution.

However, following a Burundi constitutional court's decision that allowed Nkurunziza to seek a third term in office, the country plunged into crisis. Following a failed coup attempt to remove Nkurunziza, the government intensified its crackdown on opponents and arrested hundreds of young men and women.

The president recently said that he would run for presidency in 2020 as well, if the people ask him to or if an amendment to the constitution allowed it.

Burundi environment minister killed
Environment Minister of Burundi, Emmanuel Niyonkuru, was killed while was on his way home from early on 1 January - Representational image Reuters