New strife erodes Burundi peace hopes

NEARLY five months after an attempted coup in the tiny central African state of Burundi, ethnic tensions remain high, and the killing has not stopped.

More than 200 Hutu men, women, and children were reported massacred a week ago in the capital, Bujumbura, by the other main ethnic group in Burundi - the Tutsi. In an apparent reprisal, some 50 Tutsi were killed Monday in the province of Ngozi and Bubanza, according to state radio.

The United Nations Human Rights Commission on Wednesday urged the Burundi government to investigate the coup attempt and subsequent massacres, and to try to bring to trial those found responsible.

What complicates the ethnic conflict is the yet-unsolved murder of President Melchior Ndadaye, a Hutu, during the attempted coup on Oct. 21. There seems little doubt that the primarily Tutsi military did the killing. But the question remains: how widespread was their support, and were the renegades acting on their own, as the military claims?

Cyprien Ntaryamira, a Hutu who has been named president under constitutional provisions, says he will name a commission to investigate the latest rounds of killings in Bujumbura. He also faces the delicate task of trying to disarm both Hutu and Tutsi.

UN refugee officials estimate as many as 100,000 people were killed in the initial round of massacres and counterattacks after the putsch.

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