The intensified fighting for the Congolese city of Goma is taking its toll.

A United Nations peacekeeper was killed and three others wounded on Wednesday in a joint operation with the Congolese army to drive out M23 rebels.

The U.N forces sprang into action last week with a tough new mandate to protect civilians after the rebels were accused of shelling the city.

The rebels know their presence within striking distance of Goma will boost their leverage in peace talks which are currently stalled.

They're resisting the army's efforts to push them back.

Goma's residents say they just want the conflict to end.

(SOUNDBITE)(Swahili) BUSINESSMAN J.P. KASONGO SAYING:

"In general we need help to stop the war so that we can get on with our daily lives and live in peace and harmony. When the fighting is going on we're not able to carry on with our businesses as civilians are affected and flee the area making everyone worried."

Government soldiers are among the hundreds wounded in the intensified fighting.

Doctors at this hospital have limited resources to treat them but say they're doing what they can.

(SOUNDBITE)(French) DOCTOR JOSEPH SIBAMWANZA SAYING:

"A large number of government soldiers were injured and for the last two days we've been able to stabilise them and they're now out of danger but they face a long stay in hospital because of their injuries."

The violence is the most serious in months and is the first major test of the U.N Intervention Brigade whose mandate to launch operations against the rebels is unprecedented.

It's a major step up for U.N peacekeeping operations in the region which for years have been criticised for inaction.

 

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