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DRC Troops Retake Airport After Rebel Attack

UN Mission in Democratic Republic of Congo and DRC soldiers get ready for deployment (file photo)

Government forces have regained control of an airport in the northwestern Democratic Republic of Congo, a day after it was seized by rebels.

Fighters from the Enyele tribe seized the airport in the town of Mbandaka during a surprise attack early Sunday.

Congolese officials say army troops backed by U.N. peacekeepers retook the facility after heavy fighting. A peacekeeper from Ghana and a U.N. civilian worker died in the clashes.

Mbandaka is capital of Congo's Equateur province. The army sent reinforcements to the area last year to restore order following clashes between the Enyele and the Monzaya tribe over fishing and farming rights.

Aid agencies say that fighting killed more than 100 people and displaced about 200,000 from their homes.

Many of the refugees crossed the border into the neighboring Republic of Congo.

Officials say about 100 Enyele fighters were involved in Sunday's attack on Mbandaka.

A spokesman for the U.N. mission in the DRC said the rebels arrived by boat on the Congo River and first attacked the governor's residence before overrunning the airport. Army troops and peacekeepers continued chasing the rebels on Monday.

The DRC's government is still striving to assert control over the country seven years after the end of a bloody civil war. The U.N. force of 20,000 assists the army but is facing pressure to leave within the next year.

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