KINSHASA — United Nations helicopters fired on rebel positions Tuesday in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo after new clashes broke out between rebel fighters and loyalist troops, officials said.
The second such UN action against rebels in a month came in response to a rebel offensive "against the civilian population", said Mamodj Munubai, a spokesman for MONUSCO, the UN mission in DR Congo.
The airbourne action followed renewed clashes that broke out between M23 rebel fighters and loyalist troops, north of the regional capital Goma.
Major Olivier Hamuli, the army spokesman for Nord Kivu province, said fighting erupted after rebels attacked army positions around Rugari and Kimumba, about 30 kilometres (20 miles) north of regional capital Goma.
No casualty figures were immediately available but Munubai said about 2,000 residents were forced to flee the region.
On July 12, UN helicopters were deployed to stop a rebel advance on Goma after rebels seized a number of towns on DR Congo's border with Uganda.
The mutineers are Tutsi ex-rebels who were integrated into the regular army in 2009 as part of a peace deal that followed their failed 2008 offensive on Goma.
They mutinied in April, demanding better pay and the full implementation of the March 23, 2009 peace deal after which they are named.
Kinshasa accuses Kigali of sponsoring the rebellion -- a complaint supported by a UN panel, which said in June that Rwanda was supplying the rebels. Rwanda has repeatedly denied the accusations.
Earlier this month, Congolese President Joseph Kabila and Rwandan President Paul Kagame agreed to deploy a joint task force to neutralise the M23 rebels.
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