U.N. Force Delivers Warning to Rebels Battling Congo Army

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from The Wall Street Journal,

The U.N. warned it could use lethal force to keep M23 rebels from Goma.

The Congolese army fought to drive rebel forces back from a Central African mining hub in a battle that the government said left as many as 130 people dead.

The United Nations contingent in Congo, which has troops authorized to use offensive force, issued a warning to the rebels.

Hundreds of locals fled their homes and refugee camps on Monday as explosions rocked Goma, a city of one million that serves as the capital of the mineral-rich region and the headquarters of dozens of humanitarian agencies.

The U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo, known as Monusco, said Monday that it had placed its troops on high alert to defend Goma against the rebel group, known as M23.

“Any attempt by the M23 to advance toward Goma will be considered a direct threat to civilians,” a Monusco spokesman said.

U.N. troops “stand ready to take any necessary measures, including the use of lethal force,” in order to protect Goma.

The M23 includes mainly former army mutineers and forced recruits. The rebel force defected from the Congolese army early last year, accusing the government of reneging on a 2009 peace deal under which they had been integrated into the national army.

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