Army kills over 30 Burundian refugees in DRC
At least 35 Burundian refugees have been killed and more than 100 others wounded by security forces in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo since Friday, according to an army official 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.
Eighteen Burundian refugees were killed Friday, said Mwanamboka and the others died Saturday, according to reports.
The refugees were protesting against the decision of DRC officials to extradite two other refugees arrested recently for allegedly making weapons.
"The refugees went in big numbers where the two arrested Burundians were being held, demanding their release," Mwanaboka told Anadolu Agency.
"They grabbed a gun from a security officer and fired at the soldiers, killing one of them and seriously injuring a senior police officer. The soldiers responded by firing at the protesters and killing some of them."
"The UN Refugee Agency is shocked and saddened over the violent death of numerous Burundian nationals-among them likely refugees and asylum-seekers," said UNCHR in a statement.
"UNHCR calls for an investigation into this tragic incident," said the statement, adding that UNCHR and its partners have sent teams to Kamanyola, including medical staff, to treat the injured.
The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General Congo, Maman Sidikou, in a statement said that he condemned the acts of violence perpetrated in Kamanyola.
"I am deeply shocked by the high number of civilian casualties who have sought refuge in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and condemn any form of violence between communities."
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.
The opposition in Burundi had gone on a rampage, attacking police and army while also killing supporters of Nkurunziza. Thousands of Burundian refugees fled to neighboring countries, including DRC, Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda.
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.