According to several reports, the small town of Kamanyola in South Kivu, near the border with Burundi and Rwanda, has seen deadly confrontations between Burundian refugees and asylum seekers and the Congolese armed forces during the weekend.
Maman Sidikou, the head of MONUSCO, the UN's peacekeeping mission in the country, said in a statement Saturday that at least 36 refugees had been reported killed. Thirty-nine gravely wounded Burundian refugees were evacuated by helicopter to the city of Bukavu, the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Congo said. The death of the Congolese army officer led to "the escalation of violence".
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".
Congolese government spokesman Lambert Mende said the government was investigating what had happened and the identity of the "supposed refugees", saying they had opened fire on soldiers first and "we do not yet understand" how.
Eyewitness Alfred Rukungo said the soldiers continued shooting into the crowd even after some refugees were wounded.
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.
Residents said the killings occurred after some Burundian refugees went to the bureau of intelligence in Kamanyola to inquire about four detained refugees.
Eighteen Burundian refugees were killed Friday, said Mwanamboka and the others died Saturday, according to reports.