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DR Congo forces have shot dead Burundi refugees - UN

Forces from the Democratic Republic of the Congo have shot and killed at least 18 Burundian refugees near Burundi's border.

The deaths occurred on Friday in the Kamanyola area of South Kivu province, the commander of the Pakistani battalion of the UN peacekeeping mission said.

He said 34 people were killed, 15 of them women.

The coordinator of the UN Communications Group in DR Congo, Florence Marchal, confirmed a provisional death toll of 18, with 50 others wounded.

"I do not know the exact circumstances of why it degenerated, but it degenerated ... There were shots from (DR Congolese forces) and the police on asylum seekers," she said.

The death toll is likely to worsen, Ms Marchal said.

The DR Congolese government, the UN refugee agency and the UN peacekeeping mission in DR Congo "have deployed teams on site to shed light on everything that happened", she said.

Burundi's foreign minister Alain Aime Nyamitwe on Twitter asked DR Congo and UN officials for an explanation of the shootings.

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. DR Congolese soldiers responded with gunfire when some of the refugees hurled stones, said refugee Aline Nduwarugira.

Another witnesses, Alfred Rukungo, said DR Congolese soldiers continued shooting into the crowd even after some refugees were wounded.

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

DR Congo is home to thousands of Burundian refugees. Many fled political violence at home in 2015, when President Pierre Nkurunziza successfully pursued a disputed third term amid deadly protests.

AP

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