On Friday, at least 79 "enemies" and 8 soldiers were killed during the bloodiest day of unrest in months in Burundi according to the Agence France-Presse (AFP).
The fighting left the capital, Bujumbura, pockmarked with bullet holes and strewn with bodies.
The fighting started when unidentified gunmen attacked three military installations. The offensive earned a severe response from the Burundian security services. The violence is the worst the East African nation has witnessed since the unrest began after President Pierre Nkurunziza’s illegal bid for a third term in May.
Eyewitnesses told the AFP that Burundian soldiers were seen dragging random young men from their homes, in supposed opposition strongholds throughout Bujumbura, and then executing the men on the spot.
In a statement after the clashes, army spokesman Colonel Gaspard Baratuza said that only “enemies” of the Burundian state and soldiers were killed in the clashes. However, many residents of Bujumbura believe the security services committed extrajudicial killings.
These residents informed AFP that several bodies had their arms tied behind their back, and were apparently killed with a single shot through the skull.
Despite the number of bodies in the streets, and evidence that the army may have engaged in mass executions supporters of the government exuberantly held marches in Bujumbura on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the security services were busy disposing of as many bodies as possible. The military claimed they were merely removing the bodies to avoid the spread of disease. However, several residents believe that the army was attempting to cover up the evidence of a massacre.
At the request of France the United Nations (UN) Security Council met on Friday to discuss the most recent outbreak of violence in Burundi. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon called upon all parties involved to hold back from further violence.
Samantha Power, the American ambassador to the UN, warned that the Security Council was prepared to “consider additional measures” against powerbrokers in Burundi.
Prior to the most recent attacks, roughly 240 people were believed to have been killed due to the political violence wracking Burundi.