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Kinshasa - At least two Congolese militia fighters were killed on Sunday in clashes with the army near Nioka in the restive north-eastern Ituri region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the military said.
"The militias attacked our positions near Nioka and were repulsed. At least two of them were killed and several more were injured," said Olivier Mputu, spokesperson for the Congolese army in Ituri.
The area of Nioka, where around 800 Congolese soldiers are stationed, was recaptured in December by around 500 militias led by Peter Karim.
Mputu said the army-controlled positions were strategically important for Karim as he needed access to the forest to smuggle wood into neighbouring Uganda.
Karim is believed to have been behind an attack on United Nations helicopters in northern Ituri in June in which one soldier died.
Shortly after the recapture of Nioka in December, the Congolese forces seized a Ugandan army truck in the area controlled by the militia.
A United Nations observer said at the time that Karim was running a wood smuggling operation into Uganda, and receiving weapons in payment.