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Last Updated: Saturday, 24 March 2007, 23:39 GMT
DR Congo gun battles 'claim 150'
A group of people stand around a pool of blood in Kinshasa
Soldiers and civilians are bringing bodies to city mortuaries
At least 150 people have been killed in gun battles between government troops and militiamen in the Democratic Republic of Congo's capital, Kinshasa.

Aid workers told the BBC the bodies had been taken to hospitals.

A BBC correspondent in Kinshasa reports queues of army and civilian vehicles taking bodies to the city's mortuary.

The army has now regained control after violence flared on Thursday with fighters loyal to Jean-Pierre Bemba, who lost presidential polls last year.

After two days of heavy fighting, Congolese aid workers have told the BBC that more than 150 bodies have been brought to the city's hospitals and mortuaries.

A doctor for the non-governmental organisation Caritas also said 80 severely injured people were being treated in hospital.

The BBC's Arnaud Zajtman in Kinshasa says he has seen a number of bodies still lying in the streets of the capital.

Security arrangements

Government troops have recaptured most of the capital after Jean-Pierre Bemba's guards reportedly fled the business district and surrendered to UN peacekeepers.

An arrest warrant has been issued for Mr Bemba on grounds of treason. He has immunity as a senator but the government says this may be stripped.

View of Kinshasa from across the Congo-Brazzaville border
I am afraid of what the opposition can do
Ugoo, Nigerian businessman

Mr Bemba has taken refuge in the South African embassy compound and has denied plotting military action to overthrow President Joseph Kabila.

A deadline for Mr Bemba's guards to disarm expired this week but he wants additional security guarantees before they lay down their weapons.

He told the BBC: "I feel they want to kill me." He has called for negotiations with the government about his security arrangements.

As a former vice-president in the transitional government, he is entitled to 15 policemen for his protection.

Under another agreement signed ahead of the election, the winner of the presidential poll is committed to guarantee the loser's security.

But the country's information minister said there is no reason for fresh talks.

Last year's election - the first free poll in four decades - passed off peacefully, raising hopes of an end to years of conflict and mismanagement.

President Joseph Kabila won 58% of the vote compared to Mr Bemba's 42% in an election run-off last October.


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