Uganda Peoples Defence forces on Wednesday claimed that its operations in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo killed over 100 members of a Ugandan Muslim rebel group accused of murdering UN peacekeepers.
“Over 100 terrorists were killed with several others wounded and their logistic stores destroyed,” said Brig Richard Karemire, the UPDF spokesman, in a statement.
He said UPDF had launched air and artillery strikes in a joint operation with DR Congo’s army (FARDC) on December 22 against the Allied Democratic Forces, a group that the UN says killed 14 of its troops from Tanzania earlier this month.
“It has been established that eight enemy camps were successfully attacked. These were ADF historical strongholds in eastern DRC,” Mr Karemire said.
“Those who survived the assault are roaming in different areas of North Kivu (province) but FARDC forces are pursuing them,” he added.
Mr Karemire also stressed that no Ugandan infantry troops were deployed in DR Congo nor suffered any casualties in the operation.
The intervention came after intelligence reports that the ADF rebels were planning “hostile activities” against Uganda, the army said.
The ADF, whose basic motives and ideology remain unclear, has been accused of attacking the Tanzanian peacekeepers’ Semuliki base in Nord Kivu — the deadliest attack on UN forces in 24 years.
Both Uganda and DR Congo insist on a jihadist motive to ADF’s actions, however many observers and experts say there has been no proven link with the global jihadist underground, and that this is a “simplistic” explanation for their acts.
The ADF started out in 1989 with the aim of overthrowing Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, who was seen as hostile to Muslims. But it went on to absorb other rebel factions into its ranks and started carrying out attacks in 1995.
Forced westwards by the Ugandan army, the group relocated most of its activities to DR Congo, finding a lucrative niche in the country’s lawless, resource-rich east.
It has also been accused by Kinshasa and the UN peacekeeping mission MONUSCO of killing more than 700 people in the Beni region since October 2014.