Kinshasa – Uganda launched air strikes and artillery attacks targeting the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebel group in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on Tuesday, in an operation agreed with Congolese forces, both sides said.
“As announced, targeted and concerted action with the Ugandan army started today with air strikes and artillery fire from Uganda against positions of the terrorist ADF in the DRC,” Congolese government spokesperson and Communications Minister Patrick Muyaya wrote on Twitter.
At almost the same time, a spokesperson for the Ugandan armed forces tweeted: “This morning, we have launched joint air and artillery strikes against ADF camps with our Congolese allies.”
The attack came two days after a senior Congolese source reported that President Felix Tshisekedi had given Uganda permission to pursue the ADF on DR Congo soil, following bombings in the Ugandan capital Kampala.
The ADF, linked by the United States to the Islamic State (IS) group, was historically a Ugandan rebel coalition whose biggest group comprised Muslims opposed to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.
The group established itself in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 1995, becoming the deadliest of scores of outlawed forces in the troubled region.
It has been blamed for thousands of killings in North Kivu province, especially in the Beni area.
Since April 2019, some ADF attacks have been claimed by the ISIS, which describes the group as its Islamic State Central Africa Province offshoot.
In March, the United States placed the ADF on its list of “terrorist” organisations linked to the ISIS.
On November 16, three people were killed and 33 were injured in twin suicide bombings in Kampala, which police attributed to a “domestic terror group” linked to the ADF.
Following that, a presidential advisor in Kinshasa told AFP on Sunday that the DRC would allow armed forces from Uganda to “enter Congolese territory to chase ADF terrorists.”
The move is not universally supported in the DRC, where many critics recall the role of Uganda and Rwanda in the decades-long instability in the east of the country.
On Monday, Muyaya told journalists that there were “no Ugandan troops” in the DRC, but “targeted and concerted actions… (were) envisaged with the Ugandan army to fight the ADF terrorists, our common enemy.”
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