36 refugees shot dead in DR Congo

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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.

Boji said the clashes began after a group of refugees overran a jail run by the country's domestic intelligence agency to demand the release of four Burundians who had been arrested for expulsion on Wednesday night. "The soldiers responded by firing at the protesters and killing some of them".

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.

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At least 34 people were killed, and dozens were wounded, Mr. Kijana said.

Reuters TV footage showed more than 30 bodies covered by sheets on the roadside in Kamanyola, with many more wounded also lying in the street.

"There are 34 dead and 124 wounded among the Burundian refugees", he said, before warning that the death toll could rise further because refugees had taken bodies of other victims to the Pakistani-run United Nations camp at Kamanyola.

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Burundian officials could not be immediately reached for comment, but Burundi's foreign minister Alain Aime Nyamitwe wrote on Twitter: "My heart sinks as I learn of the shootings in Eastern #DRC".

More than 400,000 refugees from Burundi have fled to neighboring Congo since 2015, to escape an outbreak of political violence that was sparked by President Pierre Nkurunziza's successful but disputed bid to win a third term in office. The government rejected the commission's findings as "propaganda".

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