Police Open Fire on Burundi Protesters

Police Open Fire on Burundi ProtestersPolice Open Fire on Burundi Protesters

Several demonstrators in Burundi were wounded Monday as police opened fire at protesters who returned to the streets of the capital to contest a bid by President Pierre Nkurunziza to extend his rule.

At least eight people were seen with bullet wounds after running battles with the police, who also fired tear gas and hurled stun grenades in a bid to disperse the crowds, France24 reported. Witnesses reported other protestors were shot, with police apparently giving no warning before opening fire. Officers were also wounded by rocks thrown by protestors. The small central African nation has been rocked by a series of violent protests after the ruling CNDD-FDD party designated Nkurunziza, a former rebel leader from the Hutu majority, as its candidate in presidential elections due to be held on June 26.

Following two days of truce over the weekend, a few hundred protesters gathered in a suburb of the capital Bujumbura Monday, shouting at police, who have for days blocked roads to prevent demonstrators from moving into the centre of the city. One group broke through and reached the center, the first time they have managed to do so since protests began, but were chased out by police. Nkurunziza has been in power since 2005. His supporters, however, say he is eligible to run again, since his first term in office followed his election by parliament -- not directly by the people as the constitution specifies.

Since the protests started, the army has regularly come between the police and demonstrators to avoid further clashes and the protesters believe the soldiers are neutral.

At least 10 people have died and scores more have been hurt since the protests began last weekend. Nearly 600 people have also been arrested, according to police.

The government linked a grenade attack that killed three people, including two police officers, in the early hours of Saturday to the opposition protests and branded the demonstrators "enemies of the state."

It has also vowed a major crackdown, with the security minister saying the police "will do everything to stop this uprising."