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United Nations refugee agency 'shocked' by killings in eastern DR Congo

17 September 2017

At least 34 refugees who had fled political violence in Burundi were killed by government forces in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo, a civil society group said Saturday.

"Congolese defence and security forces then allegedly responded with indiscriminate firing on the protesters".

Interior minister Josue Boji said that troops tried to disperse the refugees, who were fleeing violence and unrest in their own country, when the group started to throw stones.

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Most of the refugees involved in yesterday's incident are followers of a female prophet called Zebiya, who has attested to seeing visions of the Virgin Mary in northern Burundi, according to testimony to AFP from some of them.

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.

More than 400,000 people have left Burundi since April 2015, when violent protests erupted after President Pierre Nkurunziza sought a third term in office.

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Congo is home to thousands of Burundian refugees.

Residents in the area tell The Associated Press the killings occurred after some Burundian refugees went to the bureau of intelligence in Kamanyola to inquire about four detained refugees.

Overall, the violence in Burundi has claimed between 500 and 2,000 lives, according to differing tolls provided by the United Nations or NGOs and more than 400,000 Burundians have fled overseas.

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United Nations refugee agency 'shocked' by killings in eastern DR Congo