17 December 1996, Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo and Rwandan Patriotic Army (AFDL/APR) soldiers, attacking from Ziralo (South Kivu), Bunyakiri (South Kivu) and Ngungu (North Kivu), surrounded the makeshift camps at Biriko and killed hundreds of Hutu refugees and Hutu Congolese civilians, including women and children. The soldiers shot the victims dead or killed them with hoes. The people of Biriko buried the bodies in the village. Many bodies were also dumped in the Nyawaranga River.
These were Rwandan Hutu refugees who could not reach the main road between Bukavu and Walikale before the AFDL/APR soldiers took control of the tarmac road between Hombo and Walikale. Knowing what had happened at the Hombo Bridge, these refugees had to turn back towards Masisi and the majority set up home temporarily in the village of Biriko in the Walowa-Luanda Groupement. (OHCHR, 2010)
As reported by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, in the Report Of The Mapping Exercise Documenting The Most Serious Violations Of Human Rights And International Humanitarian Law Committed Within The Territory Of The Democratic Republic Of The Congo Between March 1993 And June 2003, these Rwandan Hutu refugees and Hutu Congolese civilians had arrived in Walikale territory in November 1996 via three different routes. One group, which came from Bukavu, reached Walikale territory via Bunyakiri. A second group, also from Bukavu, travelled through the Kahuzi-Biega forest via Nyabibwe. A final group, which had fled the camps of North Kivu, reached Walikale territory via southern Masisi territory and the towns of Busurungi and Biriko. Pursued by the AFDL/APR soldiers, the slowest refugees, who were often left behind by the armed men, were indiscriminately attacked and killed.