NO GO AREA? The beachside of the leafy lakeside Kajaga area in Burundi

The United States embassy in Burundi has warned US citizens in the East African nation of potential attacks from ‘regional terror groups’ on Western interests.

Burundi has been gripped by a social and political crisis for the past 18 months which has left an estimated 1,000 dead, 6,000 imprisoned and 20, 000 missing. The instability has greatly impacted the country’s security situation and diplomatic relations.

Over the weekend, the US embassy in the capital Bujumbura warned American citizens of ‘heightened security concerns that regional terror groups remain actively interested in attacking US and other Western and local interests in Burundi’.

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In an emergency message published on its website, the diplomatic mission said it had received ‘specific information leading to concern about potential activity in early December’, including, but not limited to, the Kajaga neighbourhood on the outskirts of Bujumbura.

Known for palm-studded beach resorts, Kajaga was once a popular destination. “The embassy has now placed the neighbourhood and associated restaurants and beach clubs off limits to embassy personnel until further notice.”

Last week, Willy Nyamitwe, a top adviser to Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza, survived an assassination attempt as he returned to his home in Kajaga. Speaking on condition of anonymity, a high-ranking presidential official said Nyamitwe, the most public figure of the embattled government, “was met with sustained gunfire and grenade explosions”. The chief spokesman suffered a slight injury to his arm, but one of his bodyguards was killed and another injured.

US citizens who do visit these areas are advised to avoid large public gatherings, especially those with no visible security presence, review or enhance personal security plans and be prepared to enact those plans.