Burundi police have killed at least 22 people the spokesperson describes as “evil-doers” belonging to an armed group, in clashes near the major city of Bujumbura.
Police revealed on Tuesday evening that the clashes that occurred on Sunday also took the lives of two police officers.
Police spokesperson Pierre Nkurikiye said the protesters were individuals who “took advantage of the electoral period” to incite violence. Burundi goes to the polls in May for a presidential election.
One of the 22 who were killed was a teacher believed to be a leader of the group.
The country’s main opposition party, National Freedom Council (CNL) agrees with the police that the violence that broke out was connected to the upcoming elections.
President Pierre Nkurunziza will not be contesting on behalf of the CNDD-FDD. He is stepping down after 15 years in power.
The president had earlier secured a change in the constitution that gave him the right to run until 2034.
Nkurunziza’s close ally and CNDD-FDD’s former general secretary, Evariste Ndayishimiye, is the party’s candidate. The 52-year-old is also a former national security minister.
Burundi is one of Africa’s worst examples of civil war destruction. The country went through a 12-year conflict that killed tens of thousands and displaced many more.