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Congo Army Kills 32 Militia In Battle For Town

Officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo say government troops and U.N. peacekeepers are battling rebels for control of a militia stronghold in the east of the country in fighting that has left 36 dead.

The army says around 3,000 soldiers backed by at least 500 U.N. troops attacked the town of Tcheyi in the eastern Ituri region on Saturday. It says the army has killed 32 militiamen in the fighting and has lost four soldiers.

Congolese military officials say troops pushed rebel fighters back from Tcheyi on Saturday. However, U.N. military spokesman Hans-Jakob Reichen told Reuters news agency the rebels counter-attacked on Sunday and says the situation is not yet stable.

The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo is trying to secure the troubled east of the country before landmark elections set for July.

The general elections will be Congo's first such vote in some 40 years. The country endured decades of dictatorship followed by a rebellion and a five-year war. Although the war ended in 2002, fighting among local and foreign militias has continued, especially in eastern Congo.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.