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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 November 2005, 12:57 GMT
DR Congo army bid to end unrest
Congolese soldier guarding UN helicopter
The Congolese army and the UN are trying to restore stability ahead of next year's elections
At least 50 rebel fighters have been killed in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, in an on-going operation to bring peace to the east, the army says.

One soldier was also killed in the UN-backed mission in Ituri, where fighters still roam three years after the civil war officially ended.

The army has also launched an operation to end militia raids in Katanga, to the south, ahead of elections next year.

Some 50,000 people have fled their homes in Katanga, a UN official said.

Capt Olivier Mputu said about 700 Congolese troops were involved in the attacks on the Uganda-backed Patriotic Resistance Front in Kagaba, about 40 kilometres (25 miles) south of Bunia, the capital of Ituri province.

QUICK GUIDE

"The militiamen were heavily armed, and the fighting was intense," he said.

An estimated 50,000 people have been killed in Ituri province in recent years as rival militias battle for control of the area's gold mines and other natural resources.

The army and UN troops have carried out similar raids on militia camps in other parts of eastern DR Congo.

'Triangle of death'

The army had driven the Mai-Mai militia out of some parts of Katanga, General Widi Mbuilu Divioka, the province's army commander told Reuters news agency.

Map showing Katanga, DR Congo
"We have freed the population that was being terrorised," he said.

Some parts of Katanga are being called the "Triangle of Death" after repeated raids by Mai-Mai fighters who kill, loot and rape.

Elections are due next year under a 2002 deal to end a five-year civil war.

Some 15,000 UN troops are in DR Congo to help restore stability and organise elections next year.




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