Country Risk

Cross-border raids into Burundi more likely outcome of DRC killings than conflict with Congolese military

20 September 2017

Key Points

  • The killings in Kamanyola are likely to provoke retaliatory raids into northwest Burundi, rather than spark a conflict between Burundian militants and Congolese security forces within South Kivu.
  • The ability of Burundian militants to mount such raids will likely be augmented in the one-year outlook by increased Rwandan government support.
  • The Burundian government will likely respond by arming Congolese proxies and staging military incursions into South Kivu.


At least 39 Burundians, including refugees, were killed and 180 wounded during a confrontation on 14 September between Congolese soldiers and protesting crowds in Kamanyola in Walungu territory, South Kivu province, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).Burundi militancy in DRC in 2017. (IHS Markit)Burundi militancy in DRC in 2017. (IHS Markit)

The Burundians were protesting to demand the release of four of their compatriots who had been detained by Congolese security forces. They allegedly attempted to storm the detention centre and seize weapons from Congolese soldiers (Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo: FARDC), who opened fire. FARDC soldiers then allegedly spread out in Kamanyola, singling out and killing Burundians, and it was in this phase that most of the deaths occurred. DRC government sources have claimed that the Burundians fired on the FARDC soldiers, one of whom was killed.

The DRC government will likely respond to the incident by forcibly relocating the more than 2,500 Burundian refugees currently around Kamanyola to elsewhere in South Kivu, probably along the N5 road to Lusenda refugee camp in Fizi territory.

Burundian militancy, anti-Burundian sentiment in South Kivu

The Kamanyola incident took place in the context of a significant influx since April 2015 of Burundian refugees into South Kivu, totaling around 40,000 in June according to United Nations (UN) figured. This influx is driven by the Burundian political conflict resulting from President Pierre Nkurunziza's third term bid, which the opposition denounced as unconstitutional, and which prompted a failed coup attempt against him in May 2015.

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