Hutu fighters and their allies attacked rebels in the eastern Congo town of Goma on Monday, overshadowing peace efforts and further complicating the civil war.

Tutsi-led rebels, whose battle against President Laurent Kabila is based in Goma, said Hutu fighters with links to the Rwanda genocide attacked Goma early on Monday.Rebel military leader Jean-Pierre Ondekane told Reuters the fighters attacked the airport and the radio station but added the attack had been repulsed after around five hours and a platoon of up to 700 pro-Hutu fighters captured.

"The enemy - ex-FAR (Rwandan army), Interahamwe and Mai Mai - attacked Goma airport and a radio transmitter, but we have totally destroyed our enemies," Ondekane said in a radio broadcast.

If there is confirmation that Hutu fighters attacked, it will complicate peace efforts by entrenching the Hutu-Tutsi conflict that has poisoned Rwanda and Burundi at the heart of the civil war in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo, formerly Zaire.

Southern African leaders at a regional economic summit in Mauritius on Monday were to press on with efforts to end the conflict, urging Kabila to meet the rebels.