At least 26 people were killed and seven others wounded in an attack in a rural area of Burundi, the country’s security minister said on Saturday, calling it the work of a “terrorist group” that he did not identify.
The minister, Alain Guillaume Bunyoni, told reporters that 24 people had been killed in their homes on Friday night and two others had died of their wounds at a hospital.
He gave no further details about the attack, which occurred in the Ruhagarika community of the rural northwestern province of Cibitoke.
The attack comes shortly before Burundians are due to vote on 17 May in a referendum that could extend the president’s term from five to seven years; this would allow President Pierre Nkurunziza to rule for another 14 years when his current term expires in 2020.
The proposed changes would limit the president to two consecutive terms but would not take into account previous terms, potentially extending President Nkurunziza’s rule to 2034.
It is unclear whether the attack is related to the upcoming vote.
One survivor said in an interview that the assailants had arrived around 10 p.m. local time, attacking households and setting houses on fire. Some victims were hacked with machetes and others were shot or burned alive, she said. Her husband and two children were killed, she said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because she feared for her safety.
Burundi has seen deadly political violence since early 2015 when President Nkurunziza won a disputed third term in office in an election marred by violence and an opposition boycott.