Uganda launches deadly artillery strikes on ADF camps in DRC

The Ugandan military has said it launched joint air and artillery raids with forces from the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) against the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) armed group.

“This morning, we have launched joint air and artillery strikes against ADF camps with our Congolese allies,” Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) Spokesperson Brig Flavia Byekwaso tweeted on Tuesday.

Ugandan authorities have blamed the ADF for deadly suicide bombings in the capital, Kampala, earlier this month. The armed group has been accused of carrying out dozens of attacks in the eastern DRC.

A few days ago, the Democratic Republic of Congo allowed Uganda armed forces to go into its territory to chase rebels blamed for massacres in the vicinity, supplies told AFP.

“President (Felix) Tshisekedi has already raised the option of allowing Ugandan troops to go into 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 Forces was given the “formal” green light to hunt down ADF fighters on Congolese soil.

A European diplomat confirmed the news, telling AFP: “We have been informed via our regular channels that President Tshisekedi has authorised Ugandan troops to cross the border to fight the ADF.”

Following the terror attack on Kampala, the Islamic State came out to claim responsibility for the two deadly explosions.

at the minimum seven people(including 3 suicide bombers) died in the incident and more than 3o were injured in the attacks, which took place within about 550 yards and three minutes of each other in Kampala’s business district, police spokesperson Fred Enanga said.

Police also shot and injured a fourth would-be suicide bomber in Nansana and during a search of the alleged attacker’s residence, security operatives recovered a suicide vest and other bomb-making equipment, Enanga revealed.

Police blamed the attack on the Allied Democratic Forces, an Islamist group that started an insurgency against Uganda’s President, Yoweri Museveni, in the 1990s and in 2017 pledged allegiance to Islamic State, or ISIS. Islamic State later claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s attack by its Amaq news agency.

The militant group’s leadership formally recognized the ADF as one of its affiliates in July 2019. The ADF usually operates from the jungles of the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, but European security officials say it has recently become emboldened to set afloat high-profile attacks in Uganda and nearby Rwanda after receiving sizable funding and technical assistance from Islamic State’s central leadership.

At a news conference recently, Ugandan police showed surveillance-camera footage from the scenes of the blasts. The first attacker, wearing a dark blue hooded jacket, detonated a heavy backpack as he approached two police trucks near Kampala’s central police stop, hitting more than a dozen officers, including some inside the stop,  Enanga said.

A second video showed two alleged suicide bombers riding on motorcycles close to the main entrance of Uganda’s parliament before setting off their explosives. The blast set several vehicles on fire and sent dozens of law makers scampering for safety. Local authorities switched off electricity supply to buildings in the central business district Tuesday afternoon, citing the possibility of more attacks.

On Oct. 25, ISIS said ADF operatives were behind an explosion at a restaurant in a Kampala suburb that killed a waitress the past day—the first time ISIS claimed responsibility for an attack in Uganda. On Oct. 26, several people were injured when a suicide bomber detonated an explosive device on a bus driving in the outskirts of Kampala.

Police at the time said the perpetrator of the bus attack was also a member of the ADF, although there hasn’t been a formal claim of responsibility from ISIS for that bombing.

Additional information: Al Jazeera

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