Rebels in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo abandoned a key military base on Monday but vowed to fight on despite four days of a successful army offensive that has stoked tensions with neighbouring Rwanda.
Rwanda, accused by U.N. experts of backing the M23 rebels, said two of its citizens had been killed by Congolese army fire since Friday, when fighting erupted after two months of relative calm.
Kigali, which denies any support for the M23, had warned it would not tolerate Congolese shells landing in its territory.
A string of victories by government forces backed by a new U.N. intervention brigade has boosted belief that Congo's army could finally quell a 20-month insurgency which has displaced tens of thousands of people in the mineral-rich area.
The U.N. Security Council held closed-door consultations in New York on Monday at France's request. The 15-nation body issued a statement that "condemned in the strongest terms the attacks by M23 rebel group" that claimed the life of a Tanzanian peacekeeper on Sunday.
"They (the council) also expressed their condolences for the loss of civilian lives in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and in Rwanda following shells landing on its territory," it said.
Kigali's U.N. ambassador, Eugene Richard Gasana, told the council that "no military intervention can sustainably solve the conflict in eastern DRC (Congo)."
"But Rwanda will not tolerate for much longer continued violations of its territorial sovereignty that put its people directly in harm's way," Gasana said, according to the written text of his remarks provided to Reuters by the Rwandan mission.
French Ambassador Gerard Araud told reporters that U.N. special envoy to Congo Martin Kobler said in a video briefing for the council that the Congolese army was in the process of vanquishing the M23 rebels and that its attention would need to turn to other rebel groups once the M23 threat was removed.
The United States has warned that the renewed hostilities in eastern Congo risked dragging neighbouring countries into the conflict.
Fighting flared after peace talks in neighbouring Uganda broke down when M23 demanded a full amnesty for its leaders. President Joseph Kabila last week ruled out a blanket pardon. Rwanda's Gasana called for a resumption of the Kampala talks. Reuters