KINSHASA, Congo — United Nations helicopters fired on rebels fighting Congolese troops just outside a city of nearly 1 million people in eastern Congo on Wednesday, a military spokesman for the U.N. mission said.
The fighting began just before 8 a.m. Wednesday in the hills of the Kibati area, about 9 miles north of the provincial capital, Goma.
The M23 rebels briefly seized the city late last year and then retreated to the north. The new upsurge in fighting has prompted fears the rebels could again assault the city.
Lt. Col. Felix Basse, the military spokesman for the U.N. peacekeeping mission, known as MONUSCO, said that U.N. forces were taking part in the fighting alongside the Congolese army Wednesday.
"MONUSCO has enlisted all of its attack helicopters and its artillery ... to push back the M23 offensive that is under way right now on the hills of Kibati," he told journalists in the capital, Kinshasa.
The M23 fighters launched their rebellion last year and peace talks with the Congolese government have repeatedly stalled.