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Burundi media defy government ban on massacre coverage

Bodies of two victims of armed raiders (© 2009 AFP)

Five radio stations and a private television channel in Burundi on Thursday defied a government ban and discussed a bar shooting that left 39 dead in one of the country’s worst attacks in months.

Information Minister Concilie Nibigira meanwhile said it would investigate the breach, saying the government’s “decision must be respected.”

The media outlets aired discussions on Sunday night’s massacre at Gatumba, west of the capital Bujumbura, in a stronghold of the former National Liberation Forces (FNL) rebels whose leader Agathon Rwasa has been blamed for a recent spate of attacks.

Burundi police said some of the attackers had come from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Sources said FNL rebels, who are suspected of being behind the shooting, have a base in the east of the neighbouring country, where they have teamed up with Mai Mai groups.

The government had announced a ban on media coverage of the attack inquiry.

The small country is still struggling to emerge from 13 years of civil war that erupted in 1993 and left some 300,000 people dead. The escalating violence has raised fears of a resumption of all-out conflict.

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