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ADF STAGES AMBUSH IN WESTERN UGANDA AND LOCAL ARMED GROUPS AND M23 CLASH VIOLENTLY IN NORTH KIVU

October 12-18, 2023 | Issue 36 - CENTCOM/AFRICOM Team

Lucrezia Taddei, Sebastien Chapel, Giorgia Cito, Flavie Curinier

Brantley Williams, Editor; Radhika Ramalinga Venkatachalam, Senior Editor


Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda Border Map[1]


Date: October 13, 2023

Location: Katojo, Uganda

Parties involved: Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni; Uganda; armed forces of Uganda, Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF); Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC); Congo-based rebel group Allied Democratic Forces (ADF); Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC); ISIS; African Union

The event: The ADF staged an ambush against a truck at around 0100 local time, killing a man and injuring another.[2] The attack occurred in Western Uganda three kilometers from the DRC border. The ADF has operated in Uganda and the DRC for 30 years and pledged allegiance to ISIS in 2019.[3] The UPDF launched a military campaign against the ADF in eastern Congo in 2021, resulting in the death of more than 560 ADF fighters and the destruction of the rebel group’s camps.[4]

Analysis & Implications:

  • UPDF and FARDC will likely launch an operation against ADF and ISIS, likely lowering future attacks at the border. Instability at the Ugandan-DRC border will unlikely increase, as security issues will likely reinforce the cooperation between Uganda and the DRC. ADF and ISIS will likely be forced to retreat inside Uganda and DRC, altering their attack strategies to small-scale operations considering this increased pressure.

  • The African Union's response to the ADF issue is likely to be comprehensive, driven by the organization's role in regional stability. The African Union is likely to leverage its diplomatic influence to foster collaboration between Uganda and the DRC, such as joint strategies to counter the ADF. The organization is very likely to actively consider deploying a specialized peacekeeping mission to the affected areas, significantly enhancing security and ensuring the protection of local populations.

  • ADF and ISIS will very likely utilize regional insecurity and governmental inefficiency to radicalize civilians. Terrorist groups will very likely spread disinformation and utilize civilians’ discontent to recruit them. This will likely occur in remote and rural areas where civilians likely feel neglected and government control is limited.


Date: October 15, 2023

Location: North Kivu Province, Democratic Republic of Congo

Parties involved: Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC); Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC); DRC Government; DRC-based rebel military group, March 23 Movement (M23); DRC-based local armed groups; Islamist rebel group in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Allied Democratic Forces (ADF); DRC civilians; internally displaced persons (IDP); UN; Tanzania; Uganda; Russia; China; coalition of local armed groups

The event: Violent clashes ​​between local armed groups and M23 rebels occurred in the northern DRC regions of Tongo and Bushusha. The conflict resulted from the coalition of local armed groups’ attempt to block the passage of M23 reinforcements on the Tongo main road while also trying to take control of Bwiza, one of M23’s strongholds. Civilians were reported injured in the attack.[5]

Analysis & Implications:

  • The ongoing clashes and instability in North Kivu will very likely increase the number of IDPs in neighboring countries, such as Uganda and Tanzania. IDPs’ influx into host countries will very likely impact their resources and infrastructures. IDPs will likely face challenges in overcrowded camps, including food insecurity, limited access to clean water and sanitation, and restricted healthcare services.

  • It is likely that the government will collaborate with UN peacekeepers and are likely to engage in joint operations with regional military partners to neutralize armed groups and M23 rebels. The DRC government will likely deploy FARDC forces to the country’s north to stop the clashes. A joint operation between the DRC and neighboring countries, such as Uganda, will likely be implemented to counter the threat of cross-border conflicts.

  • There is a roughly even chance that the security situation in the DRC will increase Chinese and Russian economic and geopolitical involvement in the country, likely further globalizing the conflict. The DRC government will very likely intend to purchase or receive military resources from China and Russia to fight rebel armed groups, such as M23, and terrorist organizations, such as ADF. The involvement of China and Russia in the DRC will likely increase competition among global powers for influence and access to the region's valuable resources, likely exacerbating existing geopolitical rivalries.

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[1]Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda Border Map” by Flavie Curinier via Google Maps

[2] Congo-based Islamist group stages deadly ambush in Uganda, Reuters, October 2023, https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/congo-based-islamist-group-stages-deadly-ambush-uganda-2023-10-13/

[3] Ibid

[4] Ibid

[5] North Kivu: heavy fighting between M23 and local armed groups on Sunday in Bwito, Radio Okapi, October 2023, https://www.radiookapi.net/2023/10/15/actualite/securite/nord-kivu-violents-combats-entre-le-m23-et-les-groupes-armes-locaux-ce (Translated by Flavie Curinier)

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