BUJUMBURA, Burundi — Two protesters in Burundi were shot dead Thursday, the Red Cross said, as pitched battles in the capital escalated between police and demonstrators opposed to President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term.

Meanwhile, the United Nations said dialogue among the government, opposition parties and religious organizations resumed Thursday, facilitated by the U.N. envoy to Burundi, Said Djinnit.

A protester from the capital’s Ngagara neighborhood was shot dead and another was killed in the Musaga district, Red Cross spokesman Alexis Manirakiza said. Thirteen people were wounded in clashes, he said. Protesters have disregarded several orders by Nkurunziza banning the demonstrations.

Thursday’s deaths raise the number of people killed to at least 20, the Red Cross said. The protests began nearly four weeks ago after the announcement of Nkurunziza’s candidacy. At least 431 have been wounded.

Police fired tear gas and live bullets, mostly in the air, at protesters in Musaga on Thursday. The protesters threw back a hail of stones.

Residents stayed up all night on the roads fearing that police would attack them in their houses, said Pierre Chanel Ndayizeye, who was among the protesters. They tried to prevent police from moving into Musaga with barricades of cut-down telephone poles and trees, he said.

Businesses shut down in the central business district of Bujumbura when nearly 100 protesters maneuvered around police cordons and held demonstrations, the second time protesters managed to infiltrate the heart of city since the protests began.

Police initially ran away when they saw the group but gathered reinforcements and confronted them. The group quickly dispersed. The demonstrators came to the central business district to draw police officers from Musaga to allow the people there to protest, said Elvis Arakaza, a demonstrator.


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