Burundi's army is still battling pockets of resistance after ethnic fighting killed an estimated 5,000 people, but the army itself did not massacre people, a Western diplomat said Wednesday.
Thousands of refugees pouring into the central African nation's northern neighbor, Rwanda, say the Tutsi-dominated army is engaged in a mass slaughter of Burundi's majority Hutu tribe.The Hutu, despite comprising nearly 85 percent of Burundi's 5 million people, are subservient to the Tutsi, who make up the remaining 15 percent and dominate the government and military.
A senior Western diplomat in Burundi said, "The idea the army is massacring Hutus, burning huts, etc., is just not what we're hearing here.
"Non-governmental sources, including missionaries coming down from the north, say the army is acting with a great deal of restraint," said the diplomat, who spoke on condition he not be further identified.
He said the army "still is engaged in fighting with dissident Hutus."
As of Tuesday, about 38,000 refugees had fled into Rwanda since the killing began on Aug. 14, and an estimated 5,000 peasants continue to cross the border each day, said Code Cisse, who represents the U.N. high commissioner for refugees in Rwanda.