SEPTEMBER 24, 1994

Associated Press

KAMENGE, Burundi (AP) -- Burundi's lakeside capital is a city divided. Much like Northern Ireland's Belfast or war-time Beirut, neighborhoods are split into ethnic enclaves where residents fear traveling through enemy territory.

"We, too, have a system of apartheid," said Jacques Bikorimana. "In South Africa it was whites who discriminated against blacks. Here it's blacks against blacks. We Hutus work for the Tutsis, and they allow us little hope of getting a good education or a good job."

The young chemistry teacher lives in the poor, almost exclusively Hutu northern suburb of Kamenge, amid the rubble of an undeclared war. Homes are wrecked by bullet and mortar fire, the hulk of an upturned vehicle rusts at roadside.

Since a failed coup in October, majority Hutus and minority Tutsis in Bujumbura have sought refuge in ethnically pure neighborhoods, separated like Roman Catholics and Protestants in Belfast.

Tutsi soldiers maintain a roadblock at the entrance to Kamenge, and patrol the streets in camouflage-painted trucks and tanks. "The Tutsi army is just here to harass Hutu men," said a woman who was too frightened to give her name.

Some mornings, Kamenge's Hutus are barred from getting to work in the city by menacing Tutsi youths who have set up makeshift flaming barricades.

One of the legacies of the civil war north of Burundi's border is that Hutu extremists, newly armed with Rwandan weapons coming into Burundi from Zaire, have organized counterattacks. Two grenades can be bought for the price of a beer.

On the night of Sept. 13, Hutu extremists attacked military posts in Kamenge, killing two soldiers and wounding four. The army unleased a night reprisal attacks. Officially, 61 civilians were killed. But families and friends sent Western diplomats a list of nearly 400 dead Hutus.

Hundreds were so frightened that they took refuge at a mission at the edge of the neighborhood run by Carl and Eleanor Johnson, both Americans nearly 80 years old, who offer food, medicine and prayers.

The couple tended the wounded the night of the battle. Three remain hospitalized with their wounds.

"When it's dangerous in our neighborhood, we come here," said Marie Manda, who with her young daughter was preparing a meal outside the mission church.

"When you have trouble at the market you can go home, if you have trouble at work you can go home, but if you have trouble at home, what can you do?" said Ken Johnson, the couple's son who works at the mission.

"We are tired of feeling like refugees in our own country," said Frederick Eleoloyo, a taxi driver.