Published: Tue, September 19, 2017
Worldwide | By Sean Reid

Burundi refugees killed in clashes with Congo forces

Burundi refugees killed in clashes with Congo forces

According to several reports, the small town of Kamanyola in South Kivu, near the border with Burundi and Rwanda, has seen deadly confrontations between Burundian refugees and asylum seekers and the Congolese armed forces during the weekend.

The clashes broke out when refugees were opposed to repatriation to Burundi, Kasereka said.

The U.N. envoy called for a swift investigation and urged Congo's security forces to use force as a last resort.

Burundi's foreign minister, Alain-Aime Nyamitwe, on Twitter described the incident as a "shooting" and said "explanations are needed".

Congo's government says it is opening an investigation to establish the facts and true identity of the "supposed refugees", spokesman Lambert Mende said.

Boji, who had put the toll at 34 dead earlier - including a Congolese soldier - said troops tried to disperse the refugees by "firing in the air but were overwhelmed" when the group responded by throwing stones.

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Those killed during the protest likely included asylum seekers, the United Nations agency said.

Out of 40,000 Burundian asylum-seekers, 28,000 who fled hostilities in their country were identified by the DRC's National Commission for Refugees in Kamanyola.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said it was shocked and saddened over the violent deaths.

The president of a group representing Burundians who have fled the country, Gratien Rukindikiza, said he feared the situation could slide into a "genocide".

It was not immediately clear why the four refugees had been detained.

At least 124 refugees were also wounded.

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