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Congo rebel attack kills UN troops

Rebels have attacked a UN peacekeeping base in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo killing three Indian soldiers and wounding seven others.

Up to 50 rebels attacked a base in Kirumba in North Kivu province under cover of darkness.

Nearly 4,000 Indian soldiers are part of the UN Congo peacekeeping mission, which has about 20,000 people from various countries.

Repeated rebel attacks in Congo have called into question the ability of the UN force to protect civilians. The mission known as MONUC has lost more than 100 peacekeepers since 1999.

Congo's president has said that he wants all the peacekeepers out before September 2011 and the UN started a nominal withdrawal last month. But UN humanitarian chief Sir John Holmes has warned that violence may spiral out of control if they all leave.

Rebels removed dictator Mobutu Sese Seko in 1997, then turned on each other in back-to-back civil wars that became an international scramble for the country's minerals and drew in soldiers from more than a half-dozen African nations.

The 1.35 billion-dollars-a-year (£863 million) UN mission helped hold Congo's first democratic elections in 40 years in 2006, although results were disputed and critics said the process favoured the incumbent, Joseph Kabila.

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