Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) alongside Democratic Republic of Congo forces have launched military strikes against Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels in eastern Congo.
“This morning, we have launched joint air and artillery strikes against ADF camps with our Congolese allies,” said UPDF spokesperson Brig Gen Flavia Byekwaso on Tuesday.
AFP on Sunday reported that Democratic Republic of Congo would allow armed forces from neighbouring Uganda to enter its territory to chase rebels blamed for massacres in the region.
The deadliest of scores of armed groups operating in the mineral-rich eastern DR Congo, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) has been blamed for dozens of attacks.
“President (Felix) Tshisekedi has already raised the option of allowing Ugandan troops to enter Congolese territory to chase ADF terrorists together with” UN troops, a presidential adviser told AFP on condition of anonymity.
“But Ugandan troops will not cross the border tonight or tomorrow. All procedures must first be respected, especially with respect to parliament and the DR Congo military command,” he said.
Antipas Mbusa Nyamuisi, a local spokesman for the Nande ethnic group, told AFP the Uganda People’s Defence Force was given the “formal” green light to hunt down ADF fighters on Congolese soil.
The two eastern provinces of North Kivu and Ituri have been under a “state of siege” since May, in a bid to step up a military offensive against the rebels, with soldiers replacing civil servants in key positions.
The head of human rights group Asadho, Jean-Claude Katende, said the move to allow in Ugandan troops was “an admission of the failure” of the state of siege.
The ADF began in the 1990s as coalition of armed Ugandan groups, the biggest of which comprised Muslims, who opposed Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.
The ADF, which the United States has formally linked to the Islamic State (IS) group, moved into eastern DRC in 1995, establishing itself in the Rwenzori Mountains in North Kivu.
In April 2019, IS began to claim some ADF attacks on social media, presenting the group as its regional branch.(eu)