today's Pick
Congo army attacks ADF rebels in lawless eastPublish Date: Jan 17, 2014
Congo army attacks ADF rebels in lawless east
  • mail
  • img
Congolese soldiers (L) standing guard in Lubumbashis city centre,
newvision

BENI, Democratic Republic of Congo - Democratic Republic of Congo forces attacked Ugandan Islamist rebels in the lawless east on Friday, launching a U.N.-backed offensive to clear insurgents from the mineral-rich zone.

Reuters correspondents outside the town of Beni, in North Kivu province, heard heavy gunfire as government troops moved in on positions held by ADF-NALU rebels who have been based in Congo for years and are seen as a major obstacle to peace.

Another rebel movement, M23, that had operated to the south of Beni was defeated late last year, highlighting how Kinshasa and U.N. forces have begun to take the fight to gunmen that have plagued eastern Congo for nearly two decades.

"The Congolese army has launched operations against ADF-NALU in Beni and as usual (U.N. troops) will support the army to neutralize these rebels, who have been very active recently in this zone," said U.N. forces spokesman Colonel Felix Basse.

A Reuters reporter said that Tanzanian troops from a specialist U.N. "Intervention Brigade", which is mandated to go after Congolese rebel groups, had deployed near Beni but it was unclear if they had joined the fighting.

ADF-NALU is an alliance of groups opposed to the Ugandan government that has operated from bases in eastern Congo since the mid-2000s, undermining Kinshasa's grip on the area and handing Uganda a pretext for intervening there.

Earlier this week, Ugandan and Congolese army officers held a high-level planning meeting in Beni but Ugandan officials were not immediately available for comment on Friday.

Kampala has previously said it would share intelligence and capture fleeing rebels but not intervene directly in operations on the ground in Congo.

Congo and Uganda have long had rocky relations and U.N. experts have accused Kampala and fellow neighbour Rwanda of backing M23. Both nations denied the charges.

ADF-NALU has been blamed for a spate of recent attacks and kidnappings around Beni, including the deaths of some 40 civilians in an attack on Christmas Day.

The rebel group is believed to number up to 1,400 fighters and has abducted about 300 Congolese civilians over the past year, according to a U.N. report.

Having helped the Congolese army vanquish M23, the 3,000-strong U.N. Intervention Brigade had been widely expected to turn its attention on ADF-NALU and Rwandan Hutu FDLR rebels who are also roaming Congo's east.

The Ugandan government has said ADF-NALU is allied with Somalia's al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab movement but analysts say the nature of these ties is not clear, despite the ADF-NALU's clear Islamist ideology.

Reuters

The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of New Vision Online are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the staff and management of New Vision Online.

New Vision Online reserves the right to moderate, publish or delete a post without warning or consultation with the author.Find out why we moderate comments. For any questions please contact digital@newvision.co.ug

  • mail
  • img
blog comments powered by Disqus
Also In This Section
Lwakataka remanded on murder charges
POPULAR rally driver, Ponsiono Lwakataka (38) has been remanded to Kalisizo Central Government Prison after nine counts of murder charges were read against him before the Rakai Grade 1 magistrate...
Government assures tourists on security
GEN. Aronda Nyakairima, the minister for internal affairs, said the tribal clashes that caused tension in the Rwenzori region earlier this month have since ended...
A French lawyer said he had lodged a complaint at the International Criminal Court on behalf of the Palestinian justice minister accusing the Israeli army of "war crimes"...
South Africa to host 2016 AIDS conference
South Africa''s port city of Durban will host the 21st International AIDS Conference in 2016, marking the forum''s return to Africa after 16 years....
8 pupils struck dead by lightning in Bushenyi
THE shocking incident happened at 4:45 PM during a simple drizzle, as the pupils were in class for evening lessons at the school...
Makerere agrees to clear staff allowances
Makerere University has agreed to pay staff allowance arrears for the month of May, amounting to sh3.7b....
Should government review powers of kings?
Yes
No
Can't Say
follow us
subscribe to our news letter