BUJUMBURA, Burundi — Gunfire and explosions rang out in Burundi's capital on Thursday as military forces backing an attempted coup against President Pierre Nkurunziza battled it out with forces loyal to the elected leader.
In the aftermath of one of the clashes, troops loyal to the president looked at the body of a pro-coup soldier that lay on the edge of a road a few blocks from the main government radio station. Police patrolled a deserted major road and a group of civilians walked timidly down another street, carrying a cross to show neutrality.
A weeks-old political crisis in this African country boiled over on Wednesday when an army general announced that Nkurunziza was being ousted. The president was in Tanzania at the time for a meeting with regional leaders about a political crisis that has gripped this African nation.
Nkurunziza's exact whereabouts on Thursday were unknown but in a Twitter post issued by his office, he urged the country to remain calm and said the situation is under control.
In central Bujumbura, loyalist troops were guarding the national broadcaster, known by its initials as RTNB.
The building housing RTNB and its surroundings was under attack for about 25 minutes, presidential communication adviser Willy Nyamitwe said on Twitter. State radio was broadcasting music after going briefly off air amid the fighting.
Maj. Gen. Godefroid Niyombare, who had been fired in February as the country's intelligence chief, was the officer who announced the coup on private radio. The army chief of staff, Maj. Gen. Prime Niyongabo, said on state radio late Wednesday that he is "against Maj. Gen. Niyombare."
During the night, a grenade attack seriously damaged the building of private broadcaster Renaissance TV, where Niyombare made his coup statement, said the station's director, Innocent Muhozi. One of Muhozi's offices was also burned overnight, he said.
Police withdrew from the streets of Bujumbura after Niyombare's coup statement, and people thronged Bujumbura's streets and applauded soldiers who rode by in tanks and trucks. But Wednesday's jubilation turned to uncertainty on Thursday with no resolution to the standoff.
At least 15 people have been killed during protests since April 26 over Nkurunziza's bid for a third term. During the unrest, the military acted as a buffer between police and protesters who said Nkurunziza's candidacy violated the Constitution and Arusha peace accords that ended a civil war here.
The president of Tanzania, Jakaya Kikwete, who chaired the summit on Burundi's crisis, said the regional leaders condemned the coup and called for return to constitutional order.
Following an emergency meeting on Thursday, the African Union Peace and Security Council condemned any attempts to seize power through violence in Burundi and urged talks between the warring factions.
Burundi's Constitution states a president can be popularly elected to two five-year terms. Nkurunziza maintains he can run for a third term because parliament elected him for his first one, leaving him open to be popularly elected to two terms.
The U.S. government on Wednesday called on all sides in Burundi to end the violence and expressed full support for the ongoing work by regional leaders.
Associated Press reporter Elias Meseret in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, contributed to this report.