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Brother against brother: Burundi crisis divides kin

When the attackers came, Japhet’s older brother was among them. A group of 15 climbed to a hilltop neighbourhood in Burundi’s capital Bujumbura and went house to house looking for opponents of the country`s president.

“When they attacked, my brother did not defend me and went to attack another house,” said Japhet, a victim of the night raid by the Imbonerakure, the youth league of Burundi`s ruling CNDD-FDD party.

Divided by politics, the sad family history encapsulates current tensions in Burundi, where weeks of violent street protests opposed to President Pierre Nkurunziza`s bid for a third term in power escalated into a failed coup bid last week by top generals.

The coup was crushed, but protesters have defied government orders to end demonstrations.

Tensions are high, and the night attacks hark back to the dark days of the 13-year civil war that ended in 2006 and left hundreds of thousands dead.

Despite government denials, there are fears Burundi could slide into a cycle of vicious reprisals against anyone linked to the coup, after witnesses and security sources said troops loyal to the president have been hunting down rival soldiers, even the wounded in hospital.

Opposition and rights groups insist that Nkurunziza`s bid for a third five-year term is against the constitution and the terms of the peace deal that brought an end to the country`s civil war in 2006.

But Nkurunziza, a former rebel leader and born-again Christian who believes he has divine backing to lead the country, argues his first term did not count as he was elected by parliament, not directly by the people.Japhet`s brother Felix, a priest, is a die-heard supporter of Nkurunziza`s CNDD-FDD, an ex-rebel Hutu party.

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