Kabila faces presidential and parliamentary elections later this year [Reuters]

Six people have been killed in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, in what authorities there say was a failed coup attempt.

A group of unidentified armed men attacked a residence of Joseph Kabila, the president, in the early hours of Sunday, according to Lambert Mende, the information minister.

"A group of heavily armed people attacked the presidential palace. They were stopped at the first roadblock. Our soldiers fought with them, arrested some of them and six people were killed," he said.

He said the attack was "a coup attempt", but that the situation was under control.

Authorities were trying to identify the suspects. No further details on the casualties were immediately available.

Separately, a presidential source said Kabila was not in the residence when the attack happened.

Soldiers from the president's guard were patrolling outside the residence in small groups, a witness said.

Kabila came to power when his father was assassinated in 2001. He faces presidential and parliamentary elections in November this year, the second such polls since the official end of the 1998-2003 war.

In a controversial move on January 15, parliament backed proposals by Kabila to reduce the presidential vote to a single round, ending the possibility of a run-off between the two leading candidates if neither has an absolute majority.

Source: Agencies