Burundi refugees killed in Congo clashes

Congo is home to thousands of Burundian refugees

Congo is home to thousands of Burundian refugees

At least 37 people were killed in eastern Congo on Friday when Burundian refugees who were protesting their forced return to their crisis-hit country were fired upon by Congolese forces.

According to initial reports more than 30 have been killed and over100 injured, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a news release on Saturday. The death of the Congolese army officer led to "the escalation of violence". There are a total of 43,769 Burundian refugees living in DRC.

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

"The incident provoked a reaction from the soldiers, who started shooting everywhere", he said.

Congo is home to thousands of Burundian refugees. Many fled political violence in 2015.

The Congolese government, the U.N. refugee agency and the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo "have deployed teams on site to shed light on everything that happened", said the coordinator of the U.N. Communications Group in Congo, Florence Marchal.

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The Burundian protesters, she said, "were not happy because four of them have been expelled from Congo".

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.

In the wake of the killings, Burundi's Foreign Minister Alain Aimé Nyamitwe took to Twitter demanding answers.

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

At least 124 refugees were also wounded.

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