United Nations peacekeeping mission in Eastern Congo known as Monusco has suspended its operations in Semliki area following increased and sustained attacks by Allied Democratic Forces.
The Islamist armed movement, whose main aim is overthrowing the government of President Museveni, had for decades operated as a guerrilla outfit until August 1, 2018 when it employed conventional means to attack Congolese and MONUSCO forces.
On November 14, MONUSC suffered a crushing defeat when the ADF militants killed 7 Malawians and 1 Tanzanian peacekeepers in a deadly gun battle that lasted 8 hours.
Matters were worsened on Thursday when ADF shot at a UN chopper with heavy gunfire.
French General Bernard Commins, deputy head of the Monusco UN peacekeeping force, was quoted as saying, “One of our helicopters was fired on in Semuliki valley by rebels, we reacted in legitimate defence.”
Officials said the helicopter had an emergency landing after the attack.
After being hit seriously in Kamango by ADF, the UN forces decided to use armored fighting vehicles to open roads being controlled by ADF.
This would help MONUSCO obtain the much needed freedom of movement and maneuverability.
Monusco decided to use a joint force of Guatemalan, Malawians and Tanzanian forces to retake territory in Beni.
“As soon as Monusco deployed, the ADF started mobilizing fighters and planning an attack mission,” recalled a senior official in the Congolese army who spoke to us on condition of anonymity so as to speak freely.
“At 8:00pm, our joint force was being attacked by light and heavy gunfire from ADF,” said our source, adding, “The fighting went on till the wee hours when rescue came.”
The 3302 regiment comprising what the Congolese describe as ‘Commandos’ only moved to rescue the trapped Joint force at around 4:00am.
It was discovered that 6 Malawians had been killed. A corpse of a Tanzanian soldier was also found. Initially, UN reported 7 casualties.
However, as the joint force left the battle zone, a dead body of a Malawian soldier was found. This brought the death toll of peacekeepers in one-night battle to 8.
Monusco boasts a 22,000-man fighting force in DRC – the largest in the history of peacekeeping. UN spends over $1bn per annum on the DRC mission.
Interestingly, ADF has mobilized, trained, armed and obtained invaluable combat experience under Monusco’s watch.
With ADF managing to defeat the UN forces on ground and now threatening the airforce with barrages of gunfire, officials say the insurgents are now in full control of 95 percent of Semliki area.
The fighters have considerable presence along Mpondwe-Beni (via Oicha) road; Beni-Ituri and Busunga-Beni.
Most importantly, the hostilities have pushed efforts to contain the Ebola scourge over the cliff.
Latest numbers as of 20 November 2018 show 386 cases have been reported with 339 confirmed positive and 47 being probable cases.
219 people have died with 172 being confirmed Ebola cases.
Internal communications of World Health Organisation indicate a very high risk of epidemic spread both at national and regional level.
Thirteen 13 new confirmed cases of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) were reported on November 20, 2018 (07 in Katwa, 02 in Kalunguta, 02 in Beni, 01 in Mutwanga and 01 in Oicha).
Of the 7 cases in Katwa, 5 are from the same family;
There is confirmation of a new case in the Oicha Health Zone 2 months after the last confirmed case in this area. This is a case linked to the Beni transmission chain.
“Beni, Kalunguta and Katwa remain the main hot spots of the epidemic,” reads an internal memo of World Health Organisation which ChimpReports has seen.
There are 339 confirmed and 47 probable cases for a total of 386 cases of EVD recorded since the beginning of the epidemic.