The United Nations says at least six people have been killed in fighting in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo between rebels and pro-government militiamen.

The U.N. mission in Congo says the clashes between the rebels and Mai Mai militiamen took place Friday around the town of Mabenga, about 90 kilometers north of the main eastern city of Goma.  They say the six casualties were all Mai Mai fighters.

The violence came as the U.N. envoy for eastern Congo, Olusegun Obasanjo, met with rebel leader Laurent Nkunda to discuss steps to end the long-standing conflict in the eastern part of the country.

The meeting took place in Jomba, a rebel-held area north of Goma. 

Nkunda's leadership of the ethnic Tutsi rebellion has recently been challenged by other commanders in his group who say they have taken over.  Nkunda has denied losing power.

The rebels began a new offensive in August, gaining large parts of the North Kivu province.  They say they are protecting the local Tutsi community against attacks from soldiers, militias and Hutu fighters accused of being behind the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, but now operating in eastern Congo.

An estimated quarter-million people have been displaced in the fighting.


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