19 September, 2017
Soldiers and police opened fire as the refugees tried to free some of their compatriots in Kamanyola, a town in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo near the Burundi border.
A Burundian refugee said that more than 30 had been killed and at least 100 wounded.
Maman Sidikou said he was "deeply shocked" at the violence.
The crisis in Burundi has created over 400 000 refugees and left an estimated 700 opposition supporters dead. The death of the Congolese army officer led to "the escalation of violence".
The UN envoy called for a swift investigation and urged Congo's security forces to use force as a last resort.
Congo's government says it is opening an investigation to establish the facts and true identity of the "supposed refugees", spokesman Lambert Mende said.
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Witnesses told AFP that numerous Burundians in Kamanyola were victims of religious persecution because they are followers of a female prophet called Zebiya, who has attested to seeing visions of the Virgin Mary in northern Burundi.
"No person who is a beneficiary of this (refugee) status is supposed to have an assault rifle".
The president of a group representing Burundians who have fled the country, Gratien Rukindikiza, said he feared the situation could slide into a "genocide".
Pakistani-run United Nations camp at Kamanyola, he said. "The soldiers responded by firing at the protesters and killing some of them".
"So far, we have counted 31 dead and at least 105 injured, 15 of them seriously", the refugee said.