At least 17 people, including two foreign journalists, have been arrested in a late night police raid in Burundi’s capital Bujumbura, a presidential spokesman said.
Willy Nyamitwe said in a series of tweets late on Thursday that officers arrested 17 people in the Jabe and Nyakabiga neighbourhoods, and that they recovered a cache of weapons.
French journalist Jean Phillipe Remy, the Africa bureau chief for Le Monde newspaper, and Phil Moore, a British freelance journalist and regular contributor to Al Jazeera English, were among those held.
In a separate tweet, Nancy Ninette Mutoni, described as a senior media and communications adviser to the government, said that a source confirmed that Remy and Moore were the two people identified as having ‘press accreditation’ by a police spokesman who announced the 17 arrests on state television.
Earlier on Thursday and before his arrest, Moore mentioned raids in the area in a number of tweets.
Burundi has been in political crisis since President Pierre Nkrunziza announced his intention to run for a third term in office in April, going on to win a heavily-disputed election three months later.
Rights groups say that authorities have since cracked down on opposition parties, human rights activists and the media. At least 300 people have been killed in intermittent violence during the crisis and 215,000 others have fled the country.
African leaders are scheduled to vote next week on whether to deploy a 5,000-strong African Union peacekeeping force to the country, a move Burundi strongly opposes.
In November, Robert Mahoney, deputy director of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a press freedom lobby group, described independent media in Burundi as being under attack.
“Many journalists have fled the country. Those who remain are trying to work but the authorities seem intent on preventing them from covering hard news. This must stop,” Mahoney said.