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Gunshot Sounds Heard for Six Hours in Boga, DRC

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The UPDF, in a joint operation with DRC forces, launched a series of strikes against the Allied Democratic Forces-ADF militants in neighbouring Congo, on Tuesday, an offensive that Ugandan officials said was intended to drive the militants out of their bases. It came at a backdrop of a series of terror attacks in different parts of Uganda, all of which were blamed on the ADF.
01 Dec 2021 12:47
Ugandan army preparing to enter into DR Congo on Tuesday (Photo Credit Marcus Jean LOIKA) jpg
Sounds of Tuesday’s gunshots by the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda Peoples Defense Forces (UPDF) were heard for at least six hours in according to a vocal member of the civil society. 

The UPDF, in a joint operation with DRC forces, launched a series of strikes against the Allied Democratic Forces-ADF militants in neighbouring Congo, on Tuesday, an offensive that Ugandan officials said was intended to drive the militants out of their bases. It came at a backdrop of a series of terror attacks in different parts of Uganda, all of which were blamed on the ADF.

UPDF spokeswoman Flavia Byekwaso said on Tuesday that their targets were accurately hit. "The targets were accurately hit and operations against the terrorists will continue as we look for other targets of opportunity during ground operations," Ugandan army spokeswoman Flavia Byekwaso said in a statement.

Later, a video shared on social media showed a large number of soldiers whose uniforms bore the Ugandan flag advancing on foot and entered the DRC at the Nobili border post in North Kivu state.

DRC army spokesman Leon-Richard Kasonga said in a statement that “for the time being, DRC special forces supported by Ugandan special units would carry out search and control operations to clear and secure ADF positions affected by the strikes.” The government spokesman Patrick Muyaya also tweeted that the forces were launching attacks on the positions of ADF terrorists in the DRC.

“As announced, the targeted and concerted actions with the Ugandan army started today with airstrikes and artillery fire from Uganda on the positions of ADF terrorists in the DRC,” Muyaya said on Twitter. He added that the two forces agreed after an assessment to continue in-depth operations by the special forces to clear the positions of the terrorists.

The president of the civil society of Boga, Albert Baseke says that gunshots were heard in the villages of Kiaboye and Mitembo near the banks of River Semiliki in Ituri province, a known habitat for the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). The area is located in the Eastern Part of DRC, near the Ugandan border.

Baseke explains that for six hours, residents in the areas where sounds were heard remained on tenterhooks because, for many of them, the gunshots would push ADF rebels, present in the area, to attack them in vengeance.  He adds that the inhabitants of Kiaboye and Mitembo villages are often the target of the ADF rebels, who take advantage of the absence of the DRC army in the region.

Baseke, however, says, that if it is the concerted action between the DRC and Ugandan army to hunt down ADF rebels as announced by Katembwe, the locals would comply with the government's decision.

Julien Ngandayabo, another local chief and resident is quoted by Reuters news agency saying that they heard explosions on Tuesday morning in Watalinga territory, North Kivu province, in the borderlands of eastern Congo. But, he added, there was panic because residents were not prepared for the attack.

Pascal Saambili, the head of the Watalinga chiefdom, is also quoted saying that the community woke up to the sound of heavy bombardment which continued during the morning. A DRC army spokesman, Antony Mwalushay, said three ADF fighters were killed and three wounded during intense fighting at the Semuliki bridge, which connects the city of Beni to Uganda. One Congolese soldier was killed, he added.

The DRC’s Catholic Church says the ADF has killed about 6,000 civilians since 2013 while a respected monitor, the Kivu Security Tracker, blames it for more than 1,200 deaths in North Kivu’s Beni area alone since 2017. 

The Ugandan authorities recently accused the ADF or a local group affiliated with it of carrying out or planned attacks. On November 16, four people were killed and 33 wounded in twin suicide bombings in Kampala, which police attributed to a “domestic terror group” linked to the ADF. 

In late October, the Ugandan police said they had arrested suspected ADF members, who they believed were plotting a new attack on “major installations”. Uganda has also blamed the ADF for a foiled bomb attack in August this year on the funeral of the former Deputy Inspector General of Police, Maj Gen Paul Lokech. Three suspects were charged with terrorism on November 5 in relation to that incident.

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