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Last update: Sat, 06 Feb 2016 11pm

At least 35 killed in Burundi clashes

At least 35 people are now confirmed to have been killed in clashes between Burundi's army and members of an unidentified rebel group near the Democratic Republic of Congo border, an official said Wednesday. "We've so far recovered 34 bodies of attackers. On our side, we have lost one soldier," a top Burundian army official told AFP, the day after the rebel group launched the attack on the central African nation.

"The security forces are still combing the area where there was fighting and the valleys where the members of this armed group are hiding," he added. Several residents of the area, however, said they believed the toll on the government side was higher, with at least five soldiers reported to have been killed. Burundian officials and witnesses said the group of around 200 rebels crossed into Cibitoke province north of the capital Bujumbura overnight Monday.

They crossed into the country from DRCongo's eastern Kivu region, a chronically unstable and resource-rich area that is home to dozens of rebel groups. Security forces then fought to prevent the group from reaching the Kibira forest, an area used in the past by rebel groups as a base to stage further attacks inside Burundi. Previous attacks in Burundi's border region have been claimed by a splinter faction of the National Liberation Forces (FNL), whose full name is Party for the Liberation of the Hutu People. Burundi, a small nation in Africa's Great Lakes region, emerged in 2006 from a brutal 13-year civil war and its political climate remains fractious ahead of the polls.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015