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Last Updated: Friday, 23 March 2007, 14:37 GMT
In pictures: Kinshasa clashes

Guards loyal to Jean-Pierre Bemba in Kinshasa

Gunfire and heavy artillery has rocked the Democratic Republic of Congo's capital as guards (pictured) loyal to opposition leader Jean-Pierre Bemba clashed with army units.

A Congolese soldier

Mr Bemba lost presidential polls last year and a deadline for his guards in Kinshasa to disarm and join the national army expired this week. But he wants extra security guarantees.

UN peacekeepers in Kinshasa

UN peacekeepers evacuated more than 450 civilians from areas affected by the fighting, in which at least seven civilians and three soldiers have reportedly died, on Thursday.

Congolese government troops in Kinshasa

Government troops, loyal to President Joseph Kabila who won last year's elections, patrolled the empty streets of the capital...

Kinshasa residents with their luggage

.... As civilians rushed to leave the city centre. Brazzaville, capital of Republic of Congo, just across the river, is preparing for an influx of refugees.

Smoke billowing from an oil refinery in Kinshasa

DR Congo's oil reserves were bombed overnight and fighting continued into Friday despite a ceasefire call from Mr Bemba.

UN armoured vehicles on Kinshasa's main street

His troops had taken control of the business district by Thursday night, but the next day the army appeared to be gaining the upper hand.

Schoolchildren pass by troops loyal to Mr Bemba

Mr Bemba has left his residence, which these children passed by on Thursday, and has sought refuge in the South African embassy. A warrant for his arrest has been issued.

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