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DR Congo battle against rebels near Goma city

MOVING OUT: M23 rebels pictured last year (PA)

EASTERN PROVINCES of the Democratic Republic of Congo have seen intense fighting between rebel and army forces, as the battle approaches Goma.

The government has used aircraft to bomb hillside positions held by the M23 rebels, according to the BBC.

A UN intervention force of 3,000 personnel is arriving in the region, its primary aim is to protect civilians – the international body said “lethal force” would be deployed to protect non-combatants.

Over 70,000 Congolese refugees have sought to escape the conflict by crossing the border to Uganda, aid agencies have claimed.

Last year, Goma was temporarily seized by the rebels.

Talks hosted in Uganda between the Congolese government and the rebels have broken down since they were initiated in reaction to the rebel attacks.

The frontline of the conflict currently is located only four miles north of Goma.

Both sides blame each other for the recent outbreak of fighting.

Rebel spokesman Amani Kabasha told the BBC: “What's important is to go back to Kampala to negotiate.

“We have been there for six months waiting for [President Joseph] Kabila but he refuses to talk to us”.

The M23 rebels are mainly made up of Congolese army troops, who deserted the force in April 2012 – the mutiny caused approximately 800,000 people to leave their homes in the North Kivu region, which is rich with mineral resources.

Rwanda has been accused of supporting the rebels, and a UN report leaked earlier this month said it was giving “limited” support.

Most of the rebels are ethnically Tutsi, like the majority of Rwanda’s leaders.

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