DR Congo army launches major operation against militias


The Congolese army launched a major military operation against armed groups in the eastern part of the country, a military spokesman said late Thursday.

Maj. Gen. Leon Kasonga said the large-scale operation — launched on Oct. 29 — is to completely eradicate armed groups, including Ugandan rebels of Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), from the region.

“The FARDC [Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo] have launched offensive operations to eradicate all armed groups. They are the ADF, all the Mai-Mai groups operating in the far north in Beni, Butembo, and Lubero, but also all armed groups in the eastern DRC; both in North Kivu and South Kivu,” Kasonga was quoted by the UN’s Radio Okapi as saying.

Kasonga said the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or MONUSCO, will support the operation.

“MONUSCO is a privileged partner. Not only will it continue to protect Congolese communities and the Congolese population, but also at the request of the Congolese armed forces, MONUSCO will be able to provide support of various kinds,” he said.

For the last 20 years, eastern Congo has seen a number of conflicts broke out over ethnic and land disputes, control of mineral resources and rivalries between neighboring states.

The ADF rebels — originating in Uganda, Congo’s northeast, in the 1990s — have been attacking and killing civilians in eastern DRC for over two decades.

The ADF rebels have left aside their political demands as they are mostly involved in trafficking of minerals in the eastern DRC which is rich in gold.

“Armed groups in Democratic Republic of Congo’s eastern Kivu provinces have killed 1,900 civilians and abducted more than 3,300 others between June 2017 and June 2019,” Human Rights Watch said in a report released in August.
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