GOMA - Shelling killed two people Saturday in Goma in the restive east of DR Congo after a newly formed UN brigade took its first military action to back government troops and prevent rebels from entering the mining hub, witnesses said.
Three UN peacekeepers were wounded by shells that landed near their positions, the UN mission MONUSCO said, charging that they had been targeted by the rebels.
It was unclear who fired the deadly shell that smashed into Goma's western neighbourhood of Ndosho, sparking an angry reaction from residents who blocked access to vehicles, witnesses said.
"A shell has just landed on my neighbourhood," Ndosho resident Charles Paluku told AFP on the phone, adding that two people had been reported dead.
Another witness speaking on condition of anonymity provided the same death toll.
UN envoy to the African Great Lakes region Mary Robinson condemned the violence, saying in a statement: "The attacks on the town of Goma as well as on MONUSCO forces, and their tragic consequences on the civilian population already traumatised by two decades of conflict, are unacceptable."
She added: "We must do everything to avoid an escalation of tension in the region."
The United States also condemned the rebel attacks, hailing the world body's efforts to protect the population.