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By Aaron Ross

KINSHASA (Reuters) - Police in southwestern Democratic Republic of Congo on Friday killed at least eight members of a separatist religious sect, local activists said, escalating tensions in a normally peaceful part of a conflict-ravaged country.

The police opened fire on members of Bundu dia Kongo (BDK) as they approached the morgue in the town of Kimpese to recover the bodies of fellow members killed in protests last month, Jonas Lukoki, the provincial coordinator of the New Civil Society, told Reuters.

"There were 12 deaths, including three children," Lukoki said.

A police spokesman told Reuters that several people had been killed when BDK members clashed with the police in Kimpese but did not have further details.

(Editing by Tim Cocks, Larry King)

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