The attack took place at around 1.30 pm in the Gombe area of Kinshasa, which houses the presidential residence and several foreign embassies.
Several "heavily armed men" attempted to enter Kabila's residence and were fired on by the presidential guard, according to Information Minister Lambert Mende.
Kabila "was in the area" at the time, Mende said.
As well as those killed, some of the attackers were captured alive, he added.
Mende has described the attack as an attempted coup d'état, correspondent Johnny Hogg told RFI from Kinshasa.
"There were various rumours going around that it might have been either a very organised attack or possibly some sort of dispute involving soldiers - but at the moment it is simply not clear who was behind the attack and what were the reasons for it," Hogg says.
After the attack was repelled, soldiers from the president's republican guard could be seen patrolling outside the residence in small groups. Armoured vehicles and a tank were also present.