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Burundi condemns attack on AFP and RFI reporter

August 13, 2015

Burundi’s presidency on Thursday condemned the attack on the correspondent of Agence France-Presse (AFP) and Radio France International (RFI), who was detained and tortured by security forces.

Burundian journalist Esdras Ndikumana, 54, was taking pictures at the scene of the assassination of a top general in the capital Bujumbura on August 2, when he was arrested by members of the National Intelligence Service (SNR).

He was held for around two hours, during which he was subjected to severe beatings on his back, legs and the soles of his feet. AFP and RFI sent a protest letter to Burundi’s government condemning the attack as “outrageous”.

On Thursday, more than 10 days since the attack, senior presidential official Willy Nyamitwe said in a statement the presidency “condemned this violent and unacceptable behaviour”.

The statement said President Pierre Nkurunziza had “personally instructed” the SNR chief to investigate the assault “so that the perpetrators are prosecuted and punished according to the law”.

It added that the presidency hoped the assault would “not harm the good relations” between it and the media.

Violence erupted in Burundi in April, when Nkurunziza launched his now successful bid for a third term in power.

The political crisis has seen many independent media outlets shut down and many journalists have fled the country or have gone into hiding because of threats and attacks.

Ndikumana is being treated abroad for injuries including a broken finger, a torn eardrum, and pain in the legs and back.

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.