DR Congo security forces shoot dead Burundi ‘refugees’
Security forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo have shot dead more than 30 refugees who were protesting against plans to send some home to Burundi, activists say.
Many more refugees were injured during the incident in the eastern town of Kamanyola, it has been claimed.
The group are said to have overrun a prison where a number of Burundians were being held for deportation.
However, official accounts of what happened contradict each other.
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Government spokesman Lambert Mende told Reuters news agency forces opened fire after an unidentified armed group attacked an national intelligence agency office.
Mr Mende said none of those killed were refugees, adding that in all five soldiers had been killed.
But Interior Ministry official Josue Boji told news agency AFP the troops had been trying to disperse the crowd firing shots into the air, but the situation escalated when the crowd began throwing rocks.
“There are 34 dead and 124 wounded among the Burundian refugees,” he told the agency.
Other witnesses agree more than 30 people died in the clash, with video footage showing at least that number of bodies.
The UN’s peacekeeping mission, Monusco, said the death toll was at least 18, with 50 injured.
More than 400,000 people have fled Burundi since 2015, when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced he would seek a third term, sparking widespread violence.
Some 40,000 are living in the DRC, the UN Refugee Agency said.
In the wake of the killings, Burundi’s Foreign Minister Alain Aimé Nyamitwe took to Twitter demanding answers.