The Congo army has reported the deaths of 16 ADF Islamist rebels along with 4 FARDC army soldiers after fierce fighting 40 km north of Beni near Kokola. This represents a significant portion of the remaining rebels who had originated in Uganda but were pushed west into Congo by the Ugandan army.

The ADF’s leader, Jamil Mukulu, was also reported arrested in Tanzania last week, but this has not been verified. According to a FARDC spokesman, the ADF had been significantly weakened by pressure from recent operations. He claims the ADF have been reduced to about 50 fighters operating in isolated clusters, well below a recent United Nations estimate of around 500 combatants. The ADF were blamed for a recent attack targeting a helicopter belonging to Congo’s U.N. peacekeeping mission, known as MONUSCO.

The proximity of this rebel group has been the largest impediment for our return visit as they have access to the road connecting Bunia and Beni. (Click to enlarge.)

ADF Locations

ADF Locations

The earlier reported massacre of civilians near Beni seems to still be shrouded in controversies over who committed the murders. The Congo army was engaged with nearby Mai Mai rebels at that time, so did the Mai Mai retaliate? There are even suggestions that MONUSCO has been arming the ADF, but that rumour is more likely the result of the wide spread local resentment toward the UN.

KINSHASA, May 5 (Reuters) – Two United Nations peacekeepers from Tanzania were killed, 13 wounded and four were missing in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on Tuesday when their patrol was ambushed by suspected Ugandan Islamist rebels, the United Nations said.

The peacekeepers were attacked in the village of Kikiki, around 50 km (30 miles) north of the town of Beni in North Kivu province, Felix Basse, spokesman for the mission known as MONUSCO, told Reuters