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Uganda’s military on Tuesday confirmed that at least two civilians have died in the latest attack by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebel group, while 15 militants were killed as they attempted to cross River Semliki near the border with Democratic Republic of Congo.

The ADF rebels were attempting to launch attacks and raid villages in Ntoroko District in the western part of the country.

Col Deo Akiiki, the deputy army spokesperson, told The EastAfrican that the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) intercepted an attempted raid by the ADF fighters on December 12, resulting in some of the rebels drowning while others were killed.

“Yesterday (Monday), we picked up intelligence and monitored a group of 20-30 ADF rebels trying to cross River Semliki. We repulsed them, and as we speak, many have been put out of action,” he said, adding that the militants were stopped before they could mount a serious raid on civilians.

“Some drowned in the river and others were killed. So far there are 15 bodies of rebels,” he explained.

In the ensuing combat, one UPDF soldier and two civilians, whose details could not be immediately established, were also killed, Col Akiiki added.

He refuted reports that many civilians, including children, were killed during the attack, while hundreds of others fled their villages.

Late on Tuesday, Operation Shujaa’s joint commander, Maj Gen Dick Olum, revealed that UPDF killed 17 rebels while 13 were captured and 15 guns recovered. 

But local leaders and reports continue to dispute the UPDF account, saying that at least 19 civilians were killed in the Monday morning attack by ADF, after footage emerged showing several dead bodies of non-combatants strewn in the swampy banks of River Semliki.

Gunfire

“It is true that ADF rebels have attacked my sub-county and up to now, there is gunfire exchange between ADF and UPDF. The injured have been taken to Rwamabale [Health Centre]. Other locals are running to Rwebisengo seeking refuge,” Mr Bagonza told Monitor. 

The ADF is a Ugandan but Islamist militant rebel group that uses eastern Congo as its base. It was established in 1996 and has carried out several bomb attacks inside Uganda’s capital, Kampala, the most recent being in October and November last year where at least five people were killed.

The ADF operates in eastern Congo’s Ituri and North Kivu provinces, where Uganda deployed the Mountain Brigade in Operation Shujaa, jointly with the DRC government to hunt down, fight and uproot the rebel group from its bases. - JULIUS BARIGABA, The EastAfrican

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