BURUNDI: Human Rights Activist Attempted Assassination Triggers International Protest

The attempted killing of a leading rights activist, shot in the face by a gunman, triggered international outrage on Tuesday and stoked fears of worsening violence in Burundi.

Pierre-Claver Mbonimpa, who publicly opposed President Pierre Nkurunziza's bid for a third term last month, was shot on his way home from work in the capital on Monday by a gunman on a motorbike.

"His condition is stable, and has even slightly improved," a family member said on Tuesday.

The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned "the assassination attempt" and called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.

"This incident... is part of a growing pattern of politically-motivated violence in Burundi that must be broken before it escalates beyond control," his spokesman said in a statement.

The UN Security Council separately strongly condemned the violent attack targeting the rights activist and voiced concern that the "security situation in Burundi is deteriorating rapidly".

In a unanimous statement, the 15-member council appealed for calm and a return to dialogue while voicing support for regional mediation efforts.

Ban on Monday spoke by phone with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni who is leading East African efforts to defuse the crisis in Burundi.

Several diplomats, including from the United States and France, as well as African Union officials, were at Mbonimpa's hospital bedside during the night until the arrival of the police.

The shooting followed Sunday's killing in a rocket attack of General Adolphe Nshimirimana, who was widely seen as the central African nation's de-facto internal security chief.

The attacks come just over a week after Nkurunziza was declared the outright winner of a controversial presidential election, securing a third consecutive term despite opposition protests and international condemnation.
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