Burundi reporter says grenade thrown at home

New York, June 25, 2015 – The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned about growing violence against journalists in Burundi and calls on the authorities to investigate all attacks and protect media workers.  

Voice of America correspondent Diane Nininahazwe said a grenade was thrown at her home in the capital Bujumbura on Wednesday, a day after she received an anonymous death threat.  No one was injured in the blast.

Nininahazwe told CPJ she did not know who was behind the attack. A day earlier she received three threatening text messages, including the death threat, because of her reporting. She said the texts came from a blocked number.

“The authorities must ensure the safety of journalists especially during the current political turmoil in Burundi,” said CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Sue Valentine. “The state must investigate all threats against the press and bring the perpetrators to justice.”

Nininahazwe said she had been reporting on a series of unexplained nighttime abductions in Gihanga, north of Bujumbura. She had asked the army about the kidnappings and was told by a military spokesman that they were the work of criminals. She had just returned from Gihanga when the grenade attack took place. CPJ phone calls seeking comment from both the government and presidential spokesmen were not returned.

Nininahazwe was staying with her parents. She recovered fragments from the grenade. The blast broke a window. She said she had been too afraid to call the police and report the incident Wednesday night but police visited her parents’ home on Thursday.

According to CPJ research journalists have come under threat since protests on April 26th around the announcement by President Pierre Nkurunziza of his intention to seek a third term, a move the opposition called unconstitutional. Since then, over a hundred thousand Burundians have fled to neighbouring countries, according to the UNHCR. CPJ is aware of at least 38 journalists who have fled into exile.

This week, Second Vice President Gervais Rufyikiri fled abroad saying the president should not seek a third term, news reports said. Parliamentary elections are scheduled for June 29 before a presidential vote on July 15.