Discuss as:

UN condemns Congo attacks as rebel advance threatens Goma

Phil Moore / AFP - Getty Images

United Nations peacekeepers stand deployed with an armored personnel carrier in Goma on July 10, 2012. The United Nations' Stabilisation Mission for the Congo (MONUSCO) deployed peacekeepers at key positions around the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo's North Kivu province following a threat by M23 rebels to advance on the city.

The United Nations Security Council expressed deep concern at the sharply deteriorating situation in eastern Congo on Monday, condemning attacks by a group of renegade soldiers in the country's North Kivu province.

The M23 insurgents, dominated by Congolese Tutsis, take their name from a March 2009 peace deal that ended a previous rebellion in North Kivu and led to their integration into the national army. They deserted the government ranks earlier this year, Reuters reports, accusing the government of not respecting the agreement.

The M23 seized several towns earlier this month and now occupy positions less than 20 miles from the provincial capital Goma, according to Phil Moore, a photojournalist who has covered the situation extensively in recent months. Moore wrote in a blog post on Sunday that the risk of a march on Goma looms in the air, but that the local population seem unfazed by the military build-up in their streets.

Phil Moore / AFP - Getty Images

An Indian United Nations peacekeeper digs new defenses on a hill on the outskirts of Goma on July 13, 2012. The commander in charge of this hilltop said that this position would be "the last line of defense" against an advance by M23 rebels, should they threaten Goma.

Phil Moore / AFP - Getty Images

Brigadier-General Harinder Singh, the United Nations brigade commander for North Kivu, is followed by General Lucien Bahuma, the new commander of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) for North Kivu, following a strategy meeting above the village of Kibumba I, around 20km from the city of Goma, on July 11, 2012.

Phil Moore / AFP - Getty Images

A Congolese man watches over a slow-burning wood pile covered in turf, used to produce charcoal, in the hills of Masisi territory near Kitchanga on July 16, 2012.

Phil Moore / AFP - Getty Images

A woman carries a large bundle of firewood on her back near the town of Kitchanga in North Kivu province on July 16, 2012. Many people in this part of eastern Congo, in Masisi territory, rely on rapidly dwindling woodland for their livelihoods, either directly as firewood or through producing charcoal which is transported to Goma, the provincial capital, for sale.

Phil Moore / AFP - Getty Images

Soldiers from the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) stand guard on the road between Goma and Rutshuru near the village of Kibumba I on July 11, 2012. The FARDC has deployed forces around Goma to repel any possible advance by M23 rebels on Goma.

Phil Moore / AFP - Getty Images

Roger Meece, Special Representative to the United Nations Secretary-General for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, left, and Julien Paluku, governor of North Kivu province, second left, leave a press conference in Goma on July 12, 2012. Meece said that the mandate of the UN mission in Congo was to protect civilians and therefore the use of force to prevent the advance of M23 is legitimate.

Phil Moore / AFP - Getty Images

Residents of Kitchanga sit outside a small shop in the small town in Masisi territory on July 16, 2012. M23 rebels are believed to be marching through the Virunga National Park from Rutshuru towards this town, which could potentially be used as a staging ground for a western march on Goma, the provincial capital. The town is currently held by the Congolese government army, but with many soldiers being ex-CNDP (Congrès National pour la Défense du Peuple - a rebel group that was integrated into the army in 2009), there are fears that they could defect to join M23, which is largely formed of former CNDP fighters.