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Last Updated: Monday, 16 June, 2003, 17:49 GMT 18:49 UK
Peacekeepers kill two in DR Congo

Troops of the French-led international force deployed in the northeast Democratic Republic of Congo town of Bunia have killed two militiamen, a spokesman for the force has said.

Major Xavier Pons - deputy spokesman for the force - told reporters on Monday that the incident occurred when the troops came under fire.

A patrol received a warning of aggressive acts to the southwest of Bunia, where they were attacked by two militiamen, Major Pons said.

It is the first time that French troops have killed any militiamen since arriving in Bunia a few days ago as part of an international force to protect civilians from fighting between ethnic Hema and Lendu militias.

The violence has killed an estimated 500 civilians in the past month.

The soldiers clashed with tribal militiamen for the first time on Saturday.

People hidden in long grass fired machineguns as a French patrol rolled beyond the outskirts of the town.

The soldiers returned fire with machineguns and several rounds of artillery from a light tank accompanying the patrol.

No casualties were reported in that encounter.


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