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Burundi Air Force

Encyclopaedia Universalis Yearbook (1998) reported that 100% of the total contingent of the Armed Forces (18,500 men) served in the land army in 1996.

On April 30, 2008 Burundi's air force bombed rebel positions northwest of the capital Bujumbura, after two days of violent clashes left at least 21 people dead. "The air force repeatedly flew over the Rukoko swamp and bombed FNL fighter units," army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Adolphe Manirakiza told AFP, but gave no toll.

The sound of air raids could be heard in Bujumbura. "We aim to stop them from reorganising to attack people or our positions," he said. Rukoko, on the border between Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo, is a rallying ground for the FNL, the country's last rebel group.

Government units overran enemy-occupied hills after heavy fighting in which the rebels had put up tough resistance, said Manirakiza. "Everything is calm again, we hope that everybody will go back to his hill tomorrow," western rural Bujumbura governor Zenon Ndaruvukanye said.

The announcement came hours after the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said a dissident faction of Burundian rebels had freed 238 child soldiers, ending eight months of negotiations.

The National Liberation Forces (FNL) breakaway faction handed over the children to a team of UN, African Union and government officials in its two camps north of the capital.

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