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DR Congo forces kill at least 18 Burundi refugees

DR Congo forces kill at least 18 Burundi refugees”

At least 30 Burundian refugees have been killed in clashes with Congolese security forces over plans to send some of them home, a Reuters witness and local activists said on Saturday.

Lt. John Mwanamboka said the refugees were killed in Kamanyola area in South Kivu province's Walungu territory after they allegedly rioted and the Congolese army made an attempt to control the situation.

The violence in Burundi has killed over 700 people and a United Nations commission said last week there are reasonable grounds to believe national authorities have committed crimes against humanity.

The coordinator of the U.N. Communications Group in Congo, Florence Marchal, confirmed a provisional death toll of 18, with 50 others wounded. "There were shots from (Congolese forces) and the police on asylum seekers", she said.

Residents in the area said the killings occurred after some Burundian refugees went to the bureau of intelligence in Kamanyola to inquire about four detained refugees.

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The toll could rise further, as the refugees took the bodies of other victims to the Pakistani-run United Nations camp at Kamanyola, he said. DR Congolese soldiers responded with gunfire when some of the refugees hurled stones, said refugee Aline Nduwarugira.

A United Nations spokeswoman said she could confirm at least 18 deaths but that the number was likely to rise, adding that many refugees had taken shelter at the United Nations peacekeeping mission's nearby base.

More than 100 people were injured in the incident, according to Bertin Bisimwa, chief of Kamanyola.

There are over 400,000 Burundian refugees in DRC who fled after violence erupted in their country in April 2015 when incumbent President Pierre Nkurunziza refused to leave power after serving two terms and stood in elections for a third term.

A Burundian refugee told AFP: "I saw people falling down, men, women and children who were completely unarmed".

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