Seven dead, including S. African peacekeeper, in Congo clash

AFP , Monday 19 Dec 2016

Five rebels, a South African peacekeeper and a policeman were killed Monday when militia fighters attacked the city of Butembo in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, UN and police sources said.

The clashes between police and militia fighters, who attacked the prison in Butembo, a city of around one million people in troubled North Kivu province, came amid rising tension across the country as President Joseph Kabila's mandate runs out.

"At around 6 am (0400 GMT), the assailants, who were likely Mai-Mai fighters, launched an attack against the prison and other places," said the spokesman for the UN's MONUSCO peacekeeping force, Felix-Prosper Basse.

Mai-Mai militia have staged several attacks in Butembo in recent months and though the reasons for their return appear unclear, some residents say they have heard some fighters claim they are seeking to oust Kabila.

The country was due to hold a presidential election this year as Kabila's mandate ends December 20, but the authorities failed to organise the polls and there is widespread fear of protests and violence.

Kabila is barred from a third mandate under the constitution and the opposition has accused the authorities of delaying the vote in the hope of reworking the constitution to extend his tenure.

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