Operation Shujaa, which was launched on November 30, 2021, to eliminate Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) activities from Ituri Province and neighboring regions, including Uganda, is already making inroads, according to UPDF Spokesperson Brig. Felix Kulayigye.
The operation, which is being jointly implemented by UPDF and their Congolese counterparts, FARDC, is now in phase three and has expanded from Nobli-Mukakati-Semliki Bridge, where it started in round one, and proceeded to Mboga, Tchabi, and Kainama in Irumu territory in phase two.
In phase three, the operation was expanded to Rwenzori sector and along the Mwalika-Kasindi-Beni Road.
"ADF is today a significantly weakened force, low on morale, and in disarray, struggling for survival. Efforts by the militants to sow mayhem in our rear areas were decisively defeated this week. Military pressure will be maintained on the group until it is decisively defeated, and permanent peace is restored to eastern DRC," Brig. Kulayigye said in a Friday statement.
According to the statement, road infrastructure projects are going on uninterrupted in the designated areas and Congolese civilians have returned to their homesteads and have now resumed normal production activities such as agriculture, and other economic activities.
The operation has also facilitated improved mobility and trade between people in the two countries along the common border areas.
Some of the other objectives of the operation are severely degrading ADF's capacity to make war, building effective inter-operational capabilities with our friendly forces FARDC, and promoting harmonious relations amongst the peoples of DRC and Uganda, especially along the common border areas.
The operation also eyes ceating a conducive climate for regional integration at all levels.
The operation, which was initially commanded by Maj. Gen. Kayanja Muhanga, who in October 2022 was promoted to Lt. Gen. and appointed the Commander Land Forces UPDF, is now commanded by Maj. Gen. Dick Olum.
Operation Shujaa was launched on November 30, 2021 in a surprise UPDF Airforce, and artillery strikes on major ADF positions and encampments in the region namely: Kambi ya Yua, Belu 1, Belu 2, and Tondoli.
The Airforce and artillery strikes were swiftly followed with a ground offensive by the UPDF Mountain Division through the Bundibugyo sector.
Initial intelligence estimates indicated that scores of terrorists were killed, and dozens of others injured in the strikes against the targeted positions. ADF abandoned their main operation base Kambi ya Yua and lost huge amounts of their logistics stores.
Hundreds of other militants fled their hitherto well entrenched positions, scattering deeper into the hinterland, forests, and river valleys in a bid to evade further joint UPDF/FARDC attacks.
This was the so-called ADF triangle of death composed of areas such as Mukakati, Erigeti, Kainama, Boga, Tchabi, river Semliki bridge and Burasi, to mention but a few.
The ADF, one of the most violent and negative armed groups in eastern DRC, had been operating in these areas uninterrupted for 20 years, attacking FARDC positions, carrying out widescale massacres of Wanaichi in the area, looting, raping women, and girls, recruiting and indoctrinating young boys as fighters and all the while, engaging in illegal economic trade of minerals, timber, and other resources.
All these terror activities have now been effectively stopped on account of unrelenting UPDF/FARDC pressure.
On Sunday, December 11, 2022, a UPDF mobile force in hot pursuit decisively engaged an ADF force in Maitatu, near Tokomeka forest in the general areas of Irumu. 30 ADF militants were killed in action and eight SMG rifles were recovered with hundreds of rounds of ammunition.
Due to the military pressure, 19 ADF combatants surrendered to their own forces on the same day, while the survivors fled in disarray.
Two days later, on Tuesday, December 13, 2022, an ADF splinter force of about 40 armed fighters attempted to infiltrate our operational rear areas in Bweramule sub-county in Ntoroko District.
Military intelligence with the aid of vigilant locals in the area quickly got wind of the group’s movements and a UPDF rapid reaction force was deployed to intercept the group. In the ensuing fire exchange, 20 ADF fighters were killed while 15 others were captured following a hot pursuit. 16 SMG rifles, 01 PK machine gun, ammunition, an assortment of improvised bomb-making materials, and other items were recovered. It is suspected the five other militants drowned in River Semliki while desperately fleeing back to Congo.
These two recent combat events are phenomenal achievements by the joint forces in Operation Shujaa and underscore the singular determination to eliminate the ADF once and for all.
"Surviving ADF remnants will not survive for too long unless they all surrender without delay because Operation Shujaa will continue for as long as necessary until all our objectives are achieved," reads the statement