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Seven persons were killed and 17 wounded in ethnic clashes over land rights in Kasai, a vast region in central Democratic Republic of Congo, local officials said on Thursday.

The violence erupted on Wednesday in the village of Bakua Tamba, in a dispute between the Kuba and Luba communities over where they could cultivate land, Franck Pongo, chief administrator of Mweka territory, told AFP.

“Seven people were killed, 17 were injured, and there has been major property damage, mainly the burning of eight villages,” he said.

The toll was confirmed by his counterpart in neighbouring Demba territory, Christophe Sakaji Matoni.

The authorities in Kasai and Kasai Central – the provinces from the former Kasai region – have asked the army and police to step up security in the area, Kasai governor Dieudonne Pieme said.

The UN’s peacekeeping force in DR Congo also sent a fact-finding mission.

The quarrel between the two communities was amplified by a dispute as to where the boundary line runs between the two provinces, Matoni said.

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