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DRC election violence kills at least eight

KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nov. 29 (UPI) -- Violence, including the deaths of at least eight people, marred presidential elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo, officials said.

Unpopular incumbent Joseph Kabila's main challenger on the 11-person presidential ballot is Etienne Tshisekedi, a former prime minister who has complained of voting irregularities, the Financial Times reported.

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Voting began Monday and was expected to wrap up Tuesday.

On Monday, Congolese soldiers shot and killed eight gunmen who attacked a polling station in Katanga province, a state official said.

The armed gunmen "are people who just want to destabilize the election and sabotage it," said Moise Katumbi, governor of Katanga, a Kabila stronghold.

Separately, Katumbi said two trucks with ballot material also were attacked and burned. Diplomats confirmed the attack, saying the vehicles held ballots pre-marked for Kabila, the Times said.

One diplomat said the scene at the polls was "ludicrous," citing missing presidential ballots in opposition areas and ballots that listed all candidates but Tshisekedi.

"There are incidents all over the place, and people don't trust it in the first place -- the protests are going to be really bad; they already think it's all rigged in advance," the diplomat said.

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Voice of America reported in Kinshasa, the capital, police fired tear gas to scatter protesters who said they found ballots pre-marked for Kabila.

In Goma, an independent election official said fighting broke out after a man in charge of one polling station tore ballot papers.

Results are due on Dec. 6.

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