BUJUMBURA — A coup attempt was launched in Burundi yesterday to overthrow President Pierre Nkurunziza, amid unrest over his bid to be re-elected to a third term.
Thousands of people in the capital, Bujumbura, celebrated the announcement by Major General Godefroid Niyombare.
But the coup outcome was far from clear.
The presidency said the coup had been foiled and the perpetrators would be brought to justice.
Nkurunziza left a summit in Tanzania in a huff and was last night reportedly trying to return to Burundi.
Gen Niyombare said in a radio address he had ordered “the closure of the airport and border, and I ask every citizen and law enforcement down to the airport to protect it”.
Nkurunziza had been meeting other East African leaders to discuss the crisis. Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete said the summit condemned the coup.
A statement from the Burundi presidency said: “It is with regret that we have learned that a group from the armed forces mutinied this morning and declared an imaginary coup.
“This coup attempt has been foiled and that these people, who read the coup announcement on the radio, are being hunted by defence and security forces so that they can be brought to justice.”
A presidential spokesman said Nkurunziza would address the nation on his return and was not afraid.
BBC’s Maud Jullien in Bujumbura says thousands of protesters marched to the city centre alongside soldiers and two tanks after the coup was announced.
Police shot at the soldiers and the crowd. At least two protesters were killed.
When Gen Niyombare made the announcement there was a mixed reaction and some gunfire around the capital.
In some parts there was panic and fear; people were running to safety, locking themselves into any building they could find
But there were also those who were celebrating, saying that this was what they wanted.