At least twelve people, including four children, lost their lives in an attack carried out on Wednesday in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a militia with tenuous links to the Islamic State (IS), according to military sources.
“The attack took place on Wednesday night to Thursday around 10:00 PM (20:00 GMT), when rebels simultaneously targeted the villages of Tontoli, Mapipa, and Sengi (…) in the territory of Irumu, ” in the province of Ituri, said Jean Jacques Openji, coordinator of « Allez-y-les FARDC » (« Let’s Go, FARDC »), an organization supporting the actions of the Armed Forces of the DRC (FARDC).
“We have a provisional toll so far of twelve civilians killed, including five women and four children. The rest are men, including the chief of one of these three villages, devastated during the attack, ” added Openji.
The ADF is a rebel group of Ugandan origin, but they currently have their bases in North Kivu and neighbouring Ituri provinces.
Their objectives are unclear beyond a possible connection with the Islamic State, which sometimes claims responsibility for their attacks.
Although experts from the United Nations Security Council have not found evidence of direct support from IS to the ADF, the United States has designated them as a « terrorist organization » affiliated with the jihadist group since March 2021.
While their bases are located in eastern DRC, authorities in neighbouring Uganda also accuse the group of organizing attacks on their territory.
To put an end to the ADF, the armies of the DRC and Uganda launched a joint military operation on Congolese soil in November 2021, which is still ongoing, but rebel attacks have not ceased.
Since 1998, eastern DRC has been embroiled in a conflict fueled by rebel militias and the military, despite the presence of the United Nations mission in the DRC (MONUSCO).