The villages of the once densely populated northern Burundi now stand as silent testimony to mass tribal killings that authorities say have left at least 5,000 people dead.

Heavily armed government troops patrolled the district Sunday, but there was little to guard save for charred huts and abandoned cattle wandering the desolate streets. Those who escaped the bullets and machetes had fled, while the injured were in hospitals.Authorities in the small, landlocked central African nation said more than 5,000 people died in two weeks of new clashes between Tutsi and Hutu tribesmen that started in mid-August. Independent sources said the Tutsi-dominated army slaughtered thousands more Hutus and that the actual death toll far exceeds the admitted 5,000.

More than 47,000 people from the majority Hutu tribe fled north to neighboring Rwanda. Many had bullet and shrapnel wounds and accused the Burundi army of atrocities against unarmed civilian Hutus.