(By Estera Popowska
A day after a top general launched a coup to oust Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza, heavy fighting broke out between rival Burundian troops on Thursday around the state broadcaster, military officials and witnesses said.
According to the Guardian, witnesses said rival factions of the armed forces, divided between supporters of the coup attempt and the president’s loyalists, were exchanging heavy machine gun and rocket fire around the state television and radio complex, which is held by the president’s supporters.
According to a pro-coup military source, the RTNB complex was attacked in the early hours of the morning after Burundi’s armed forces chief used state radio to announce that the coup had failed.
A journalist inside the complex confirmed heavy fighting raged through the early hours of the morning and after dawn, with heavy weapons including cannons and rockets being used.
A top Burundian general, former intelligence chief Godefroid Niyombare, launched the coup on Wednesday, capping weeks of violent protests against the president’s controversial bid for a third term.
Nkurunziza was outside the country in neighbouring Tanzania when the coup was launched and has been blocked from returning to the central African nation by pro-coup troops who have seized the airport.
VOA says Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura was quiet Wednesday night following an attempted coup, but the whereabouts of President Nkurunziza remain unclear.
The attempted coup comes days after President Nkuruziza announced he will be running for president for a third term, a move that has fuelled weeks of violent protests.
Burundi’s Interior Minister Edouard Nduwimana told VOA’s Central African Service that President Nkurunziza had returned to Burundi, although he did not specify his location (Agencies)