The family of a Burundian journalist who was arrested last week, reportedly by the country's National Intelligence Service, now fears he is dead.

Godeberte Hakizimana told The Associated Press on Wednesday that her husband, Jean Bigirimana of the independent newspaper Iwacu, had been arrested in Muramvya province.

She said the family has checked almost all of the jails in the province for him. Police say they don't have him.

Human Rights Watch has documented a pattern of disappearances in Burundi in which people are taken away, often by members of the intelligence services, and not seen again for weeks or months.

The East African country has been tense following President Pierre Nkurunziza's re-election last year amid protests disputing his right to stay on for a third term.