Five Congolese refugees were killed and more than 20 injured when Rwandan police broke up a crowd demonstrating against a cut in food rations, police said Friday.

The incident on Thursday followed days of sit-in protests against the reduction in food aid at Kiziba refugee camp in western Rwanda.

“Violent demonstrators armed with stones, sticks and metal projectiles assaulted and wounded seven police officers,” said police spokesman, Theos Badege.

“Police were forced to use teargas to disperse the rioters, protect and rescue officials, and secure the nearby communities.”

“Unfortunately, 20 rioters were wounded in the process, with five of them succumbing to injuries,” he added, without providing details of the injuries nor the cause of deaths.

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The government had initially denied any fatalities.

Around 2,000 refugees began protesting on Tuesday after food rations were reduced. Some of the camp’s 17,000 residents have lived there for over 20 years after fleeing conflict in eastern Congo.

“The protests followed a decision of the World Food Programme (WFP) to reduce food aid to the refugees by 25 percent due to funding shortage,” said Jean Claude Rwahama, Rwanda’s director of refugees affairs.


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