Security forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo have killed at least 36 Burundian refugees during clashes over plans to send some of them home.
Maman Sidikou, the UN envoy to DR Congo, said in a statement on Saturday that at least 117 more people were also injured and another Congolese officer was killed.
He called for a swift investigation and urged DRC’s security forces to use force as a last resort only.
Josue Boji, a Democratic Republic of Congo interior ministry official, said troops had tried to disperse the refugees by “firing in the air but were overwhelmed” when the group responded by throwing stones in Friday’s confrontation.
Police and soldiers opened fire as the refugees protested over the resettlement plan and tried to free some of their arrested compatriots in the town of Kamanyola in eastern DRC, sources told the Reuters news agency.
Activist Wendo Joel said the refugees had seized a weapon and killed a soldier, though that account was not confirmed by other sources.
Al Jazeera was unable to independently verify the death toll.
A local army spokesman, Dieudonne Kasereka, told Reuters there had been clashes between soldiers and refugees armed with knives and machetes, but that he did not know if there were any deaths.
More than 400,000 refugees have fled DRC’s neighbour Burundi since violence erupted there in April 2015 when President Pierre Nkurunziza said he would seek a third term in office, a move his opponents said was unconstitutional
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies