A special U.N. brigade formed to neutralise armed groups in Congo has taken its first military action, firing artillery at rebels menacing the border city of Goma, U.N. and Congolese military officers said on Friday.
The force of Tanzanian, South African and Malawian soldiers was backing the Congolese army against M23 fighters, whose brief occupation of the city last year damaged the image of the U.N. mission in Congo and led the Security Council to create the brigade.
The United Nations pledged in July to prevent the rebels from getting back within range of the city of about a million people on the Rwandan border.
But M23 this week entered a security zone ringing Goma that was established by the new, robustly-mandated Intervention Brigade earlier this month.
At least three people were killed on Thursday when shells landed on the city.
"Of course we responded with artillery as we cannot accept any threat to the population. That's why we retaliated," U.N. Lieutenant-Colonel Felix Basse told Reuters by telephone from Goma referring to Thursday's fighting.
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