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UN helicopters fire on M23 rebels in east Congo

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KINSHASA, Congo (AP) - A military spokesman for the United Nations peacekeeping mission in eastern Congo says U.N. helicopters have fired on M23 rebels.

A police officer looks on as protestors burn tires in the street following recent violence. AP Photo.

The helicopters are backing Congolese troops as they battle rebels Wednesday outside Goma, a city of nearly 1 million people.

Lt. Col. Felix Basse told reporters that Wednesday's fighting began just before 8 a.m. Wednesday in the hills of the Kibati area, about 9 miles (15 kilometers) north of Goma.

The M23 rebels briefly seized Goma late last year before retreating into the hills north of the city. The new upsurge in fighting has prompted fears the rebels could again assault the city.

The Congolese forces are now receiving extra help from a newly created U.N. intervention brigade that can go on the offensive against the rebels.

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