A high ranking officer in Burundi's army seen as close to the president was killed in the capital Tuesday, officials said.

Lt. Col. Darius Ikurakure was shot dead inside the army headquarters in Bujumbura, multiple officials in the military told The Associated Press. One official said he was hit as he stood reading a noticeboard. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the press.

Ikurakure had been commander of Camp Muzinda, in Bubanza province, a position that put him in charge of security operations in Bujumbura districts seen as hostile to the government.

Ikurakure had been seen as a regime enforcer, accused of being behind extra-judicial killings and disappearances of civilians opposed to President Pierre Nkurunziza's government, said Vital Nshimirimana, a Burundian human rights activist.

"The fact that he was killed within army headquarters clearly means no one is safe in Burundi and also shows the deepening divisions within the army, which is not good for the country," Nshimirimana said.

Burundi has been volatile since April 2015 when Nkurunziza announced he would seek a third term, which he eventually won. Hundreds of people have died in the continuing unrest. Human rights groups blame Burundi's security forces for most of the killings, although a new rebel group has launched and there have been attacks on government officials.


Ssuuna reported from Kigali, Rwanda.