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Page last updated at 20:55 GMT, Sunday, 4 April 2010 21:55 UK

DR Congo attack kills two UN workers

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Militants have killed two United Nations workers in north-western Democratic Republic of Congo.

Heavily armed rebels attacked the town of Mbandaka and overran the airport, UN officials said, killing a Ghanaian peacekeeper and another UN employee.

Several civilians were also killed in the attack and it remains unclear whether UN peacekeepers and Congolese troops have retaken the airport.

Two rival ethnic groups have been fighting for local fishing rights.

The local dispute is entirely separate from the fighting between numerous armed groups in eastern DR Congo, which has drawn the world's biggest peacekeeping operation to the country.

Mbandaka is the capital of Equateur province, where at least 100 people were killed in clashes between the Lobala and Boba communities last year, displacing an estimated 200,000 people.

Between 30 and 100 fighters were believed to have been part of the latest attack.

A UN spokesman in Kinshasa, Madnodje Mounoubai, told the BBC that the Congolese army had recaptured the airport, though shooting had continued into the night.

However, this was contradicted by a Congolese commander in Mbandaka.

The BBC's Thomas Fessy in Kinshasa says the joint operation to retake the airport was suspended overnight, and should resume on Monday, according to Gen Janvier Mayanga, the man in charge of government troops in the provincial capital.

Mr Mounoubai told Reuters news agency it was thought the rebels were from the Enyele community - a Lobala sub-tribe.

The UN is in talks with DR Congo officials on withdrawing its 20,500-strong peacekeeping mission, Monuc.

The mission's current mandate expires in May.

Our correspondent says this new fighting might put such a withdrawal into question.



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