* Two of the wounded are South African
* U.N. backing government offensive against M23 rebels
* Fighting raises tension between Congo and Rwanda
(Adds nationality of killed peacekeeper, shelling of Goma
By Pete Jones
GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo, Aug 28 A
U.N. peacekeeper from Tanzania was killed and three others were
wounded on Wednesday in an operation with the Congolese army to
drive back M23 rebels from the city of Goma in eastern Congo, a
U.N spokesman said.
Democratic Republic of Congo's U.N. peacekeeping mission
used helicopters, artillery and ground troops in support of
government forces that launched the assault on rebel positions
north of Goma, a city of 1 million people on the Rwandan border.
A 3,000-strong U.N. intervention brigade, with a tough new
mandate to protect civilians and neutralise armed groups in the
mineral-rich central African nation, sprang into action last
week after the United Nations accused the rebels of shelling the
The M23 rebels, aware that their presence within striking
distance of Goma is key to their leverage in stalled peace
talks, have fiercely resisted Congolese army efforts to push
Wednesday's fighting focused on the high ground around the
village of Kibati, 11 km (7 miles) north of Goma.
"The M23 has been using these positions to shell populated
areas. The objective of the operation is therefore to remove the
threat against Goma," U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq said.
Congo's U.N. peacekeeping mission, known as MONUSCO, later
said that the dead peacekeeper was a Tanzanian.
A U.N. official in Goma said Indian peacekeepers and members
of the intervention brigade - composed of Tanzanian, South
African and Malawian troops - had taken part in the fighting.
South African military spokesman Brigadier General Xolani
Mabanga said two of the wounded soldiers were South African.
The nationality of the third person wounded in the attack
was not yet known.
A Congolese officer at the frontline said government troops
had by early evening seized strategic hills in Kibati and were
fending off attempts to retake them.
MONUSCO's top military official said that at least one, and
possibly two shells fell inside Goma late on Wednesday.
Residents of the city's Mabanga Nord neighbourhood told a
Reuters witness that a 14-year-old boy was killed and others
injured in one of the blasts.
Mortar bombs and rockets have struck both sides of Congo's
border with Rwanda in the past week, raising tensions between
two neighbours which have fought two wars since the 1990s.
Kigali has accused Congo's army of firing on its territory,
and Rwandan army spokesman Brigadier General Joseph Nzabamwita
said mortar bombs had rained down on Rwanda "the whole day".
At least seven civilians were killed by shells that landed
in Goma on Thursday and Saturday, humanitarian agencies and
Congo has blamed M23 for firing into Rwanda to try to draw
in Kigali, which U.N. investigators accused of supporting the
18-month rebellion - a charge Rwanda has denied.
M23 humiliated Congo's army and the 17,000-strong MONUSCO
force by briefly occupying Goma in November, forcing the
government to accept peace talks.
The new U.N. intervention brigade was created in March,
marking an aggressive step-up for peacekeeping operations in the
region, which for years have been criticised for inaction.
Bolstered by the new brigade, Congolese President Joseph
Kabila has effectively ditched the peace talks in the Ugandan
capital Kampala, analysts say.
But MONUSCO chief Martin Kobler said protecting eastern
Congo's largest city was the government's responsibility.
"The U.N. cannot guarantee the security of Goma. It's our
partners the (Congolese army) who will do that," he said.
(Additional reporting by Chrispin Mvano in Goma, Louis
Charbonneau at the United Nations, Helen Nyambura-Mwaura in
Johannesburg and Jenny Clover in Kigali; Writing by Bate Felix
and Joe Bavier; Editing by Daniel Flynn, Alison Williams and