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Last Updated: Saturday, 8 July 2006, 17:35 GMT 18:35 UK
DR Congo peacekeepers are freed
UN troops in DR Congo
The UN troops are in DR Congo ahead of crucial elections
UN officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo say that militiamen have released five UN peacekeepers held in captivity for over a month.

The peacekeepers - from Nepal - were among seven soldiers seized in eastern Congo by the rebel FNI at the end of May. The other two were freed earlier.

The UN force in Congo, MONUC, has been working with Congolese troops to disarm militias in the volatile east.

The operation comes ahead of national elections at the end of this month.

More than 30 presidential and hundreds of parliamentary candidates began official campaigning this week in what organisers say will be the country's first democratic elections in over 40 years.

'Ransom demand'

Some 17,000 UN troops - the world's largest peacekeeping force - are in the country for the elections.

The soldiers were captured in Ituri district, west of the town of Bunia, as they backed up an operation by Congolese troops.

One soldier was killed and three other lightly wounded in the fighting.

Two of the seven captured soldiers were released nearly two weeks ago.

There were unconfirmed reports that the FNI demanded a ransom for their release.


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