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Burundi President Appeals for Ethnic Harmony, Soldier Killed

A civilian jumps over a burning barricade of rocks erected by residents to protect themselves from police, in a northern district of the capital Bujumbura, in Burundi Thursday, May 14, 2015. 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. (AP Photo/Erik Esbjornsson)
A civilian jumps over a burning barricade of rocks erected by residents to protect themselves from police, in a northern district of the capital Bujumbura, in Burundi Thursday, May 14, 2015. (AP Photo/Erik Esbjornsson)

 

(Reuters) – Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza appealed for ethnic harmony on Wednesday, addressing fears that weeks of political unrest could trigger another bout of bloodletting between Hutus and Tutsis in the heart of Africa’s Great Lakes.

In an address on national television, Nkurunziza, who is under pressure from street protesters to end his bid for a third term, said the risk of the former Belgian colony descending once again into genocide or civil war was too great.

“No Burundian wants to revive the tensions of ethnic division or any other nature,” Nkurunziza, who has mixed Hutu-Tutsi parentage, said. “The blood that was spilt in the past has taught us a lesson.”

More than 20 people have been killed in the unrest, which includes a failed military coup a week ago, and there are fears of more bloodshed as determined anti-Nkurunziza demonstrators confront an intensifying crackdown by security forces.

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