CONGOLESE rebels said they were starting to pull out of the eastern city of Goma as the United Nations again called for an end to foreign support for the fighters to prevent the conflict spreading across the volatile region.
The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo is demanding sanctions against its neighbour Rwanda over its alleged backing for the M23 rebel group, which swept across the resource-rich east of the central African country last week.
A French-drafted resolution passed at the UN meeting said the Security Council would consider sanctions against more M23 leaders and "those providing external support", although it did not name any country.
The government of the DCR also accused the M23 of widespread looting in Goma, while the Red Cross reported that it had buried dozens of people whose bodies were found in the streets after the rebels' capture of the city more than a week ago.
An M23 military commander, Sultani Makenga, said the rebels would start returning to positions 20 kilometres from Goma, in line with a deal struck in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, although the UN said their movements were unclear.
A government spokesman, Lambert Mende, said the rebels had plundered buildings "from top to bottom" in Goma and taken the loot - including trucks, mineral stocks and even a morgue refrigeration system - to Rwanda.
The United Nations accuses Rwanda, and to a lesser extent Uganda, of aiding the rebels, charges both countries vehemently deny.