DRC: Coalition forces free 100 hostages

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A hundred civilians taken hostage by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels have been freed by the coalition forces of the DRC Armed Forces (Fardc) and the Ugandan People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) in Benin, in the east of the DRC.

For about two months, the forces of the coalition have been bombarding the strongholds of the ADF rebels in the Mwalika and Nzulube valleys, Lusilubi at the confluence of the Semuliki River in Beni (North Kivu) and in Beu near Boga in Irumu territory (Ituri).

Lieutenant Colonel Mak Hazukay, Spokesperson for the FARDC-UPDF Joint Operations says evading the holds of the rebels was the best decision taken

“The best thing we have done is to bomb and believe me it is having an effect and we are waiting, namely the release of the hostages. 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”.

Some ex-hostages, including women and children, were abducted from different villages in different places during the attacks, Kathungu Syaseya explains how she escaped.

“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”.

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 reconstitute themselves.

Civil society organisations are calling on the Congolese government 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,” sais Noëlla Katongerwaki of the Collective of Women’s Action for the Vulnerable (CAFVU).

It has been a year since the DRC armed forces (FARDC) and the Ugandan People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) have been conducting joint operations on Congolese soil against the ADF rebels, who are considered to be the perpetrators of the massacres of thousands of civilians and other abuses.