Six killed in fresh clashes in eastern DRC

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Goma - Fresh clashes on Saturday between government troops and a militia in Nord-Kivu province in the troubled east of Democratic Republic of Congo have left two soldiers and four fighters dead, the army said.

The army's position in Kaseghe was attacked around dawn "by the Mai Mai (militia) which caused the death of two soldiers from FARDC (Congolese army) and four militiamen," said lieutenant Jules Tshikudi, an army spokesperson in the region.

He also said the wife of a soldier was wounded.

The army pushed back the militia but the fighting is continuing, he added.

When the fighting broke out the people in the surrounding area took flight, said Georges Kasongo, head of civil society in Kaseghe, a city of around 150 000.

"We are asking the authorities to come and protect this population. Several villages around Kaseghe are occupied by the Mai-Mai. There is not a single soldier in these villages," he said.

The Mai-Mai is a "self-defence" militia comprising members of several different ethnic groups in the region.

During the second civil war in the DRC (1998-2003), a number of these groups were armed by the ruling power to fight invading Ugandans and Rwandans - and several groups never disarmed.

Kaseghe is located in the Lubero territory neighbouring Beni where a series of deadly clashes have taken place over the past year.

Sixteen people were killed on Thursday near Beni in clashes between the army and a suspected Mai-Mai group - though its presumed spokesperson describes it as a national revolutionary movement opposed to the regime of President Joseph Kabila.

Kabila has been in power since 2001 when he succeeded his father. He was elected president in 2006 and 2011 and his second mandate expired in December.

But the 46-year-old leader has refused to step down fuelling a political crisis in the vast central African country. Elections are now supposed to be held by the end of this year.

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