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Joint DRC-Uganda operation frees 100 hostages held by ADF rebel group

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Democratic Republic Of Congo

Around a hundred civilians who were abducted by a rebel group in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo have been rescued in a combined DR Congo-Uganda military operation.

The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebel group, which is Islamist in its ideology and operates in both DR Congo and Uganda, had been holding the civilians.

For about two months, the airforces of both DR Congo and Uganda had been striking the strongholds of the ADF rebels in the Mwalika and Nzulube valleys, Lusilubi at the confluence of the Semuliki River in Beni in North Kivu province, and in Beu near Boga in Irumu territory in Ituri province.

Some of the former hostages, which included women and children, were abducted from different villages in different locations. 

Kathungu Syaseya described her escape from the ADF.

"The soldiers arrived when we were in the middle of praying. They were firing several bullets, which allowed us to flee and we were in the middle of the bush."

A spokesman for Operation Shuja said it had been a success.

"The best thing we have done is to bomb and believe me it is having an effect," Lieutenant Colonel Mak Hazukay said.

"The same exercise that is being done in the Ruwenzori massif and in the Mwalika valley is also being done on the Ituri side in the vicinity of Boga, Kainama, Chabi and surroundings. We are plundering," he added.

After the destruction of their camps, the ADF rebels dispersed even further into areas not covered by the coalition forces, allowing them to attempt to re-group. 

Civil society organisations are calling on the government in Kinshasa to review the convention with Uganda in order to widen the area of intervention of the FARDC-UPDF joint operations.

"Let these rebels be prosecuted and prevented from massacring people. We want these operations to be carried out even on the other side of the main road, national road number 4. We want these offensives to pursue the enemy wherever they hide," said Noëlla Katongerwaki of the Collective of Women's Action for the Vulnerable, said.

The ADF began its insurgencies by first attacking the Ugandan government in 1995. It then began to fight in DR Congo. It's believed to have killed around 700 civilians and has also fought with UN peacekeeping soldiers.

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