GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo -
Congolese rebels and government forces traded heavy weapons fire
around two eastern villages on Friday, forcing thousands of
civilians to flee towards the provincial capital days ahead of a
regional summit due to tackle the rebellion.
The clashes took place around Kibumba
and Rugari and UN
helicopter gunships were seen headed towards the frontline, but
Reuters reporters said there was no sign of an imminent move on
, the capital of North Kivu
province, some 25 km (15 miles)
to the south.
A rebellion launched in April has already forced some
260,000 people to flee their homes. UN experts have said
is backing the rebels, prompting the United
States, a key ally of Kigali
's, to cut some military aid.
denies it is supporting the rebels.