US sanctions 2 Burundi officials, 1 rebel leader over chaos

The United States has sanctioned two Burundi government officials and one rebel leader over violence in the country linked to President Pierre Nkurunziza's extended tenure.

Those sanctioned are military commander Marius Ngendabanka, security official Ignace Sibomana and rebel leader Edouard Nshimirimana, the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control said in a statement late Thursday.

The three men were sanctioned for engaging in actions or policies that threaten the peace, security or stability of the East African country, the statement said.

According to the United Nations, at least 400 people have died since Nkurunziza ran for and won a third term in July that many called unconstitutional.

The U.S. in November also sanctioned officials including Burundi's minister of public security and a leader of the national police.

Burundi's military spokesman Col. Gaspard Baratuza declined to comment on the latest sanctions, which freeze all assets in the U.S. of those named and prohibit U.S. nationals from engaging in transactions with the men.

Ngendabanka is alleged to be one of several Nkurunziza government officials alleged to be involved in "purification" operations in the capital, Bujumbura, against those opposed to the president's third term, the U.S. statement said.

He allegedly assigned squads of Burundi soldiers to arrest, torture and assassinate opposition figures in Burundi, the statement said.

Sibomana is a security official linked to Nkurunziza's inner circle and has been involved in operations to target those opposed to the government, the U.S. statement said.

Nshimirimana is a former senior Burundian army officer who leads the Force Republicaine du Burundi, or FOREBU, rebel group, which launched in December, the statement said. FOREBU was behind attacks on military camps in which least 87 people were reportedly killed in Bujumbura, the statement said.