BUJUMBURA, Burundi (AP) — The Tutsi military governor of a province dominated by Hutu rebels was assassinated while on a campaign trip to rally villager support, a Burundi government spokesman said Tuesday.
Lt. Col. Marcel Sinarinze was killed Monday as he was traveling in a convoy near the Zairian border town of Buganda, 25 miles northwest of Bujumbura, said Evold Banzbaze, a spokesman for Burundi’s military ruler, Maj. Pierre Buyoya.
Four soldiers and one civilian also were killed; another soldier was seriously wounded.
“We are certain this attack was carried out by Hutu rebels who have been fighting in the area during the last few days,” Banzbaze said.
Sinarinze, governor of northwestern Cibitoke province, had been in the area to encourage Hutu villagers to cooperate with the Tutsi-dominated military, he said.
The province is a stronghold of Hutu rebels fighting the military for control of the tiny African nation on the north end of Lake Tanganyika.
Sinarinze’s predecessor was assassinated in May and a legislator from the province was killed in April. In August 1995, gunmen ambushed U.S. Ambassador Bob Kruger in Cibitoke. Kruger survived the attack but a priest who was with him was killed.
Sinarinze, a political moderate, was a longtime ally of Buyoya, who seized power in a coup July 25. Buyoya has pledged to stop the ethnic violence in Burundi and has appointed new military governors in most provinces.
More than 150,000 people, mostly civilians, have died in ethnic violence since 1993, when Burundi’s first democratically elected Hutu president was assassinated by Tutsi paratroopers.