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Congo peacekeepers kill seven rebels in east--UN

KINSHASA, Sept 30 (Reuters) - United Nations helicopters killed seven people in a rocket attack on rebels trying to seize an army camp in Democratic Republic of Congo's North Kivu province, a U.N. military spokesman said on Wednesday.

Most of the government soldiers based in Lwibo, in Masisi territory, had left the camp to get their pay when Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) rebels and local Mai Mai militia fighters attacked their base early on Tuesday.

"The (Congolese army) asked us for aerial assistance. Our attack helicopters fired five rockets, killing seven elements," Lieutenant Colonel Jean-Paul Dietrich, military spokesman for Congo's U.N. peacekeeping mission, MONUC, told Reuters.

Congolese army officials said eight enemy fighters had been killed in the air strike and a government counter-attack. One army officer died of injuries he sustained in the initial exchange of fire.

Government forces are battling the Rwandan Hutu FDLR in U.N.-backed operations in the eastern border provinces of North and South Kivu.

The Mai Mai militia joined the army earlier this year under a peace deal intended to help boost its capacity to take on the FDLR.

But last week 20 eastern militia groups suspended their participation in the peace deal, accusing the government of failing to honour pledges to pay them salaries and grant them command positions in the army. (Reporting by Joe Bavier; editing by Daniel Magnowski and Tim Pearce)

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