On December 23rd, 2023, the Red Tabara Group, also known as the Popular Forces of Burundi, carried out a horrific attack on civilians in Gatumba, Burundi near the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 20 people including 12 children and pregnant women had been killed and was immediately condemned by the international community. The Burundi government contacted Interpol for assistance on placing notices on the suspected perpetrators.
The situation has taken the Burundi government by storm. Interior Minister Niteretse, in a speech, told onlookers that “we will hunt them down to the last.”
— SOS Médias Burundi (@SOSMediasBDI) December 26, 2023
However, the situation escalated earlier today when Burundi President Ndayishimiye publicly claimed that the Rwanda provided training and support to the rebel group. As of 1500 EST, the Rwandan provided this statement:
It is important to note that since the 1960s, bi-lateral relations between Burundi and Rwanda have been largely dominated by the ethnic tensions and conflicts between the Hutus and Tutsis in both countries. Millions have been killed, wounded, and expelled from both countries throughout the Rwandan Genocide and the Burundi Civil War. Relations have further been exacerbated during the M23 Movement in the last two years. On 15 August 2022, Burundi began sending troops to Kivu in the DRC to fight against M23 rebels, which were fighting alongside Rwandan troops (despite official denials from Rwanda). They arrived as part of the first contingent of EAC (which both countries belong) peacekeeping forces to deal with the M23 offensive, with Burundians being the largest contributors. The Burundian presence in the region was controversial, as despite ostensibly being there to fight the rebels, they were instead reported to be co-existing in the same space as the M23.
These accusations and inflamed emotions in the aftermath of this attack can escalate the already fraught situation between the two nations.