WASHINGTON — The Pentagon has sent about 20 Marines to the volatile African nation of Burundi to help safeguard the U.S. embassy there, a Defense Department official said Monday.
The State Department last week ordered dependents of U.S. government personnel to leave the country because of political violence and the potential for terrorist attacks on American interests there.
The Marines were sent last week to bolster security at the embassy, said the Defense official who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the deployment. The airport and land borders have been closed there, according to the State Department.
A failed coup by generals in Burundi prompted President Pierre Nkurunziza to crack down on dissenters. Reuters reported Monday that he fired his defense minister.
The State Department has warned Americans not to travel there.
Burundi has long been wracked by violence. Its first democratically elected president was assassinated in 1993, sparking ethnic violence between Hutu and Tutsi factions. Fighting raged for more than 10 years and killed more than 200,000 people.
The landlocked in eastern Africa is one of the poorest in the world. Its chief export is coffee.
Source : usatoday.com