July 18 (Reuters) – Burundi authorities have arrested a journalist over an article questioning security forces’ ability to respond to attacks by Somalia’s al Shabaab insurgents, his relatives said on Sunday.
Al Shabaab, which is linked to al Qaeda, claimed responsibility for twin explosions at a crowded restaurant and a rugby club in Uganda’s capital Kampala on July 11, during the last moments of the World Cup final, killing 73. [ID:nLDE66B00L]
The insurgent group has threatened more attacks unless Uganda and Burundi withdraw their peacekeepers from Somalia, where al Shaabab is fighting the government and control large parts of the chaotic country. [ID:nLDE66C033]
Burundian police arrested Jean Claude Kavumbagu — who runs the online news agency Net Press — on Saturday, relatives said.
He wrote in a July 12 article: “If Somali Islamists had to try something in Burundi, it would be easy since our defence and security forces are much better in looting and killing innocent people than defending the nation.”
“A judge who questioned him told me that he was being prosecuted for a story he wrote linked to the al Shabaab’s threats,” his brother, Jean Marie-Vianey Kavumbagu, told Reuters. “For us, the law was violated because he was not assisted by his lawyer during the interrogation.”
Burundi has said it will keep its 2,500 peacekeepers in Somalia despite al Shabaab’s threats. [ID:nLDE66D1DQ]
Kavumbagu has been arrested five other times for stories he has written critical of government authorities.
(Reporting by Patrick Nduwimana, editing by George Obulutsa and Mark Heinrich)