By Stanis Bujakera
KINSHASA (Reuters) -A helicopter belonging to the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Democratic Republic of Congo was shot down by M23 rebel fighters in eastern Congo with at least eight people on board, the Congolese army said in a statement on Tuesday.
The U.N. mission, known as MONUSCO, said earlier in the day that it had lost contact with the chopper in an area where rebels are staging an offensive.
The M23 group, which was driven out of Congo after an insurgency in 2012 and 2013, attacked two army positions near the border with Uganda and Rwanda on Monday and fighting continued into Tuesday.
The helicopter was shot down in an area controlled by the rebels while on a mission to track civilian population movements, said the Congolese army statement.
The army is working to find it and any potential survivors, it said.
(Reporting by Stanis Bujakera in Kinshasa; Additional reporting by Sofia Christensen in Dakar; Elias Biryabarema in Kampala; Clement Uwiringiyimana in Kigali; Writing by Hereward Holland and Sofia Christensen; Editing by Nick Macfie and Andrew Cawthorne)