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Mass graves found in Burundi

BUJUMBURA, Burundi -- More than 200 bodies have been found in mass graves in a suburb of the Burundi capital.

The discovery of the bodies in Bujumbura is seen as grim evidence of the recent fighting between Hutu rebel guerrillas and government forces.

It was announced on Sunday by local officials who have moved back into Kinama, the area they evacuated during the fighting which began at the end of February.

The Burundian army said two weeks ago that it had forced the rebel guerrillas out of Kinama, where insurgents had launched a major attack on the capital.

Fourteen bodies were found in mass graves on Saturday, bringing the total so far discovered to more than 200, a local official said.

graphic Key Events in Burundi History

He said the bodies in the mass graves were in an state of advanced decomposition.

"Most of the bodies were of young men, some in military uniforms, along with a few women and children," he said.

More then half of Kinama's 50,000 population have returned to their homes since the army announced that it had forced the rebels from the poor Hutu suburb.

Earlier this month, Burundian officials said they had found 40 bodies in Kinama bringing the known death toll from the rebel assault on the city to at least 134.

The official said although people were returning to their homes there was not enough drinking water for all of them.

Local administration officials said the people were now facing a new danger -- cholera.

"Every day we have two or three new cases of cholera among people brought to the hospitals," one official said.

An administrative source said around 20,000 civilians had been displaced in the past week by military activities in Gasarara, Mbau and Nyambuye communes on the hills near Bujumbura.

An estimated 200,000 people have died in the tiny central African country's seven-year civil war, which broadly pits rebels of the ethnic Hutu majority against an army and government that are dominated by the minority Tutsis.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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4:30pm ET, 4/16

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