London - British Foreign Secretary William Hague on Sunday expressed "deep concern" at the worsening violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo and called on rebel forces to engage in talks to avoid further killings.
Earlier on Sunday, the UN combat helicopters fired on rebels advancing on the key eastern DRC city of Goma as government troops and top local officials reportedly joined fleeing civilians.
The M23 rebels, army mutineers whose uprising in April has unleashed fresh unrest in the DRC’s chronically unstable east, halted their advance just outside the main city in the mineral-rich east.
"I am deeply concerned by the rapidly deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo caused by the military activities of the 23 March Movement (M23)," Hague said in a statement.
"I strongly condemn the M23's advance towards Goma and call on it immediately to desist from further violence.
"I am particularly concerned by the risk to civilians, the population of Goma and refugees in surrounding areas," he added.
Hague urged those with influence over M23 "to call on them to stop fighting and not to provide them any external support" and pushed all parties "to engage to resolve this crisis without further bloodshed."
Britain warned any nationals in Goma to leave immediately.