Democratic Republic of Congo forces kill Burundian refugees

Burundian refugees prepare food over an open flame at a settlement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

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.

Interior ministry official Josue Boji said troops had tried to disperse the refugees by "firing in the air but were overwhelmed" when the group responded by throwing stones. A total of 43,769 Burundian refugees live in DRC.

The refugees were protesting against the decision of DRC officials to extradite two other refugees arrested recently for allegedly making weapons.

A Burundian refugee told AFP news agency: "I saw people falling down, men, ..."

Marchal said at least 50 others were wounded and the death toll is likely to rise.

He also stressed that defence and security forces could resort to force "only as a last resort" and in accordance with global norms, and urged "the authorities to promptly open criminal investigations".

Its peacekeeping mission Monusco said another 117 were injured during the incident in the east of the country.

More than 400,000 refugees have fled Burundi including 40,000 to neighbouring Congo, since violence erupted in April 2015 when President Pierre Nkurunziza said he would seek a third term in office, a move his opponents said was unconstitutional.

Congo is home to thousands of Burundian refugees.

Kamanyola is home to 2,000 of the almost 44,000 people who have fled Burundi to neighboring Congo, according to the U.N. Refugee Agency.

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