As many as nine United Nations peacekeepers have been killed during an armed ambush in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The dead are mainly Bangladeshi peacekeepers according to the country's UN mission.

The attack happened this morning in the north-eastern region, where almost 5,000 peacekeepers are deployed.

The troops were ambushed by unidentified gunmen while they were on patrol.

The Defence Forces Press Office has confirmed that none of the three Irish officers operating in Congo were involved.

The north-eastern district is one of Congo's worst troublespots, where ethnic militias have killed 50,000 civilians since 1999.

The former Zaire is struggling to recover from a wider five-year war that at one stage sucked in six neighbouring countries and, according to an international aid agency, has killed up to four million people.