Ugandan forces on Friday attacked rebels accused of killing 14 United Nations peacekeepers in eastern Congo earlier this month, the military said, describing the rebels as “terrorists” who were planning more attacks.
The ongoing assault is based on shared intelligence with Congolese officials and is a pre-emptive measure against the Allied Democratic Forces, military spokesman Brig. Richard Karemire told The Associated Press.
The rebels “were planning to conduct hostile activities against Uganda,” he said.
Ugandan forces were carrying out aerial bombardments and firing “long-range weapons” but troops haven’t entered Congo. It is not clear how many rebels have been killed or injured, Karemire said.
Dozens of armed groups operate in eastern Congo, fighting over control of vast mineral resources.
The ADF originated in Uganda as a rebel force against the government and carried out deadly bombings in the 1990s. A military campaign forced them to relocate to eastern Congo, where they have been blamed for many attacks targeting civilians.
The group originally said it opposed what it called the marginalization of Ugandan Muslims. While the fighters are mainly Muslim, experts say there are no proven links between the rebels and other extremist organizations in Africa.
The ADF’s leader, Jamil Mukulu, was arrested in Tanzania and extradited in 2015 to face trial in Uganda, where he faces multiple murder charges.
This comes just days after, suspected Allied Democratic Front (ADF) rebels reportedly killed 15 UN peacekeepers and wounded over 50 others.
Among the killed were from Tanzania and at least five were Congolese soldiers.
Last Thursday, several trucks carrying unspecified number of UPDF soldiers and military equipment were seen in Fort Portal town heading to Bundibugyo.
The 2nd Division army spokesperson, Major Peter Mugisa told journalists then that the deployment followed reports that the ADF rebels planned to enter the Uganda through Bundibugyo District.
Mr Mugisa said, “The attack on the UN base was diversionary but their intention was to infiltrate and attack Uganda.”
According to Mugisa, the deployment heightened especially in areas he referred to as enemy prominent routes.
In the 1990s, the ADF rebels terrorized the Rwenzori region in the districts of Kasese, Bundibugyo and Kabarole for over a decade. During the insurgency, the rebels are believed to have killed more than 3,000 people and displaced 100,000.
In 2013, more than 10,000 refugees crossed into Uganda at the Busunga Border post in Bundibugyo district. They fled after the ADF rebels attacked the town of Kamango, 11 kilometres from the DRC-Uganda border.