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Counting the casualties after Kinshasa battle

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©  Eddy Isango/IRIN

Angry man stands at the burning compound of Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba's bodyguards in Kinshasa, DRC on 27 July 2006.

KINSHASA, 25 Aug 2006 (IRIN) - At least 66 people had been killed and wounded during three days of fighting in Kinshasa, the Congolese capital, between forces of President Joseph Kabila and Vice-President Jean-Pierre Bemba, the minister of interior said on Friday.

"The tally was made in areas the police patrolled during hostilities and does not include combatants from each side of the conflict," Theophile Mbemba, the minister, said.

Bodies had been lying in the streets, some for days.

Mbemba said 43 of the 66 people were wounded and 23 killed, among them 12 policemen and seven civilians, as well as four soldiers who were not part of either Kabila's or Bemba's forces. Neither side has so far released a tally of their casualties.

Mbemba also said 17 locations around the city had been pillaged.

Fighting started on Sunday just before the country's Independent Electoral Commission issued preliminary results of the first round of presidential elections held on 30 July.

Kabila, the incumbent, won 45 percent of the national vote but not the 50 percent, plus one vote, needed to avoid a run-off. In Kinshasa, Kabila secured less than 20 percent of the vote, against Bemba's 50 percent.

Each side accused the other of provoking the violence.

Ambassadors and officials from the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, also known as MONUC, negotiated a ceasefire on Tuesday between the two leaders. Under the terms of the ceasefire, Kabila and Bemba agreed to cede control of parts of the city to the national police force and have verification teams monitor their compliance. Each verification team comprises representatives of MONUC, the European Union's military force and police, the national army and Bemba's and Kabila's guards.

There has been no fighting since Wednesday but tensions remain high between supporters of the two candidates, who are set to face each other in run-off elections on 29 October.


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