The Observers

'It's a policy of invasion': ADF rebels expand attacks in DR Congo

Dozens of people were killed in mid-April by ADF rebels in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Dozens of people were killed in mid-April by ADF rebels in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo. © Observers

In the northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels have expanded their operations into Ituri province. On April 10 and 11, around 30 people were killed near the town of Komanda by the ADF, an Islamist group that was originally based in Uganda. The Islamic State organisation – to which the ADF has pledged allegiance – claimed responsibility for the attacks. We spoke to a witness who works in agriculture nearby. He told us what he saw. 

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More than 30 people were killed in attacks on April 10 and 11 in Ituri, a province in the northeastern part of DR Congo. Images sent to the FRANCE 24 Observers team show bodies lying on the side of a road near the town of Komanda, as well as burned down houses and hundreds of villagers fleeing the insecurity.

On April 11, the Islamic State organisation's communications arm claimed responsibility for the attacks. 

 

'A sort of psychosis took over the population'

Marc (not his real name) works in agriculture near Komanda. He had to flee the area after violence broke out in mid-April. 

The rebels' operations began on April 8, when we heard about their presence in a village in the vicinity of Komanda. I spent the night there, it was horrible because there were gunshots. And as it got worse, we made a run for it. 

The people could only escape with some objects from home, pots and pans. The others carried mattresses and some clothes. A sort of psychosis took over the population. 

'We can't continue our farming'

Marc is concerned that these attacks and the displacement of people working in the agricultural sector will cause problems with the supply of the city of Bunia, the capital of Ituri.

Between November and December, there were attacks by the ADF in the southern part of Ituri, on the Komanda-Beni axis. This is a very important route for the city of Bunia, used to supply agricultural products and charcoal. 

Now, the road that's very important is that Komanda-Mambasa axis. After the attacks here, it's cut off because we can't continue our farming for fear of being beheaded or killed by these ADF rebels. I've come to understand that it's a policy of invasion being established little by little in the area. 

According to a Congolese human rights organisation, the attacks continued in Ituri and reportedly left at least 85 people dead in 10 days in mid-April. Since 2013, at least 6,000 people have been killed by the ADF. To combat the rebels, the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri have been under martial law since May 2021 and a joint military operation with Uganda was launched last November.