At least 30 Bu­run­dian refugees die in clashes

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

At least 30 Bu­run­dian refugees have been killed in clashes with Con­golese se­cu­rity forces over plans to send some of them home, a Reuters wit­ness and lo­cal ac­tivists said yes­ter­day.

Po­lice and sol­diers opened fire as the refugees protested over the plan in the town of Ka­many­ola in east­ern Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo on Friday, the ac­tivists told Reuters. Congo’s govern­ment spokesman Lam­bert Mende de­nied that those killed were refugees, say­ing that the clashes broke out when as­sailants from an uniden­ti­fied armed group at­tacked an of­fice be­long­ing to the na­tional in­tel­li­gence agency. Five sol­diers and 20 of the at­tack­ers were killed in the fight­ing, Mende said.

More than 400,000 refugees have fled Bu­rundi - in­clud­ing 40,000 to neigh­bor­ing 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.

Wendo Joel, an ac­tivist from a Con­golese pro-democ­racy and hu­man right group, said the refugees had seized a weapon and killed a sol­dier as they tried to free some of their ar­rested com­pa­tri­ots.

“The sol­diers first fired in the air but there were many refugees,” Joel told Reuters. “I have counted 32 bod­ies. There are also about 100 wounded.” 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.

A UN spokes­woman con­firmed that at least 18 Bu­run­dian asy­lum seek­ers had been killed but said the toll was likely to rise. Many oth­ers had taken shel­ter at the UN peace­keep­ing mis­sion’s nearby base, she added. Ac­cord­ing to a spokesman for the UN refugee agency, more than 2,000 Bu­run­dian refugees live in Ka­many­ola with host fam­i­lies. In a state­ment, Bu­rundi’s main op­po­si­tion group­ing, CNARED, ac­cused Bu­run­dian army troops and mem­bers of the rul­ing CNDD-FDD’s youth group Im­bon­er­akure of car­ry­ing out the killings with the Con­golese army.

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.”

“Clarifications are needed on the shoot­ings & cir­cum­stances around,” he added.

The vi­o­lence in Bu­rundi has killed over 700 peo­ple and a UN com­mis­sion said last week there were rea­son­able grounds to be­lieve au­thor­i­ties had com­mit­ted crimes against hu­man­ity. The govern­ment re­jected the com­mis­sion’s find­ings as “pro­pa­ganda”. —Reuters

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.