Uganda and Congo jointly attack Islamist militias


* Artillery, air strikes target allied Democratic Forces * ADF swore allegiance to the Islamic State in 2019

* Ugandan troops seen invading the Congo (Adds Ugandan army explanation) By Erikas Mwisi Kambale

BENI, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nov. 30 (Reuters) – Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo launched joint air and artillery strikes against an Islamic State-affiliated militia in eastern Congo on Tuesday, both countries said. Three witnesses said Ugandan troops also crossed the Congo border at Nobili that afternoon. Congo government spokeswoman Patrick Muyaya denied that Ugandan soldiers had crossed the border, but Ugandan army spokeswoman Flavia Byekwaso said they did.

The attacks targeted the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) militia, which has been stationed in the Congo since the late 1990s and which is alleged to have killed hundreds of villagers in raids after pledging allegiance to the Islamic State in mid-2019 . For its part, IS has taken responsibility for some of the ADF’s acts of violence, including a number of recent bomb attacks in Uganda -11-16, but United Nations researchers found no evidence of IS command and control over ADF operations.

“The targets have been hit exactly and operations against the terrorists will continue while we look for other opportunities during ground operations,” Ugandan army spokeswoman Byekwaso said in a statement. “As announced, the targeted and concerted actions with the Ugandan army began today with air strikes and artillery fire from Uganda on the positions of ADF terrorists in the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” said Congo spokesman Patrick Muyaya on Twitter.

The joint offensive is the first time since a brief campaign in December 2017 that Uganda publicly intervened against the ADF in Congo residents said they had Heard on Tuesday morning explosions in Watalinga Territory of North Kivu Province in the border region of Eastern Congo.

“There is real panic here at home, mainly because we were not informed of the situation,” said resident Julien Ngandayabo. “We have suffered too much with the ADF that massacred our families. We are waiting to see if this is the solution.” At around 4:15 p.m. (1415 GMT), Fabien Malule, a resident of the Congolese border town of Nobili, said he saw many Ugandan troops entering Congolese territory with their weapons.

“Today it is really a pleasure for some residents here in Nobili. For me personally, since we have suffered too much, I prefer to wait for the result of their fight,” said Malule. Risky intervention

A spokesman for the Congolese army, Antony Mwalushay, said three ADF fighters were killed and three injured in intense fighting at the Semuliki Bridge, which connects the city of Beni with Uganda. A Congolese soldier had been killed, he added. A triple suicide attack in the Ugandan capital Kampala on November 16, in which seven people were killed, including the bombers, was the third ISIS the Islamic State has claimed in the east African country.

The Ugandan authorities responded by stating that they could enter the Congo to hunt down the militia in self-defense. The Congo’s underpaid and poorly disciplined army would have a hard time seriously compromising the capabilities of the ADF on its own, said J. Peter Pham, former U.S. envoy for the Sahel and Great Lakes regions of Africa.

“(But) any presence of foreign armed forces risks significant setback politically and, if sustained over a long period of time, even strategically,” Pham told Reuters. Uganda’s response risks sparking a wave of retaliatory attacks against civilians and fueling regional rivalries, analysts said.

(This story was not edited by Devdiscourse staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)


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