UPDATE: Canada suspends deportations to strife-torn Burundi, as killings continue

Similar reprieves extended to nationals from other countries including Somalia, Mali, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, and Libya.

THE Canadian government on Wednesday suspended the deportations of Burundi nationals lacking proper papers, citing the violence and political instability shaking the central African country.

The administrative reprieve was announced by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). It did not say how many Burundians would be affected.  The agency specified, however, that any foreigners subject to expulsion because of criminality, or international or human rights violations, would “not benefit from this stay of removal.” 

The order will not affect anyone wishing to travel voluntarily to Burundi, the agency said, adding that it would re-evaluate its deferral policy once conditions improve in the country.

 Canada has extended similar reprieves to nationals from several other troubled countries or regions, including Somalia, Syria, the Gaza Strip, Mali, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Libya, Nepal and Yemen. 

Gun battles 

Since April, Burundi has faced a grave political crisis that, by UN estimate, has claimed at least 240 lives and prompted 200,000 to flee the country.  

At least five people have been killed in Burundi in gun battles and grenade blasts with bodies found dumped on the streets, local officials and witnesses said Wednesday.

The killings are the latest violence in now near daily gun battles.

Two people were killed and six wounded in a grenade blast in a bar in Mutimbuzi, some 10 kilometres (six miles) east of the capital Bujumbura, on Tuesday night, senior local official Damien Barindambi said.

Another grenade attack, in Mugongo Manga, some 30 kilometres east of the capital, wounded three people shortly after, officials there said.

Meanwhile in Bujumbura, the bodies of three youths were found early Wednesday on the streets of the city’s Mutakura district, witnesses said, adding that with no blood seen, the corpses were likely dumped overnight.

Burundi’s government blames a string of attacks on “armed criminals”, but the UN has warned that Burundi risks sliding back into civil war after a dramatic rise in violence.

President Pierre Nkurunziza, an ex-rebel turned born-again Christian who believes he has divine backing to rule, won a third term in power in July, despite concerns over the legality of him serving a third consecutive mandate.

UN observers said the polls were neither credible nor free. Since the elections, clashes between gunmen and the security forces have become a near daily event.

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