UPDF flushes ADF rebels out of Kasese

UPDF soldiers of the 21 batallion in Nyabitukulu, Bwera in Kasese District guard some of the captured Zairean rebels and civilians who were believed to have collaborated with the ADF rebels. in 1996 . Courtesy Photo

What you need to know:

The Allied Democratic Forces was put together to undermine the ruling NRM/A and overthrow it. Their activities raked havoc in western Uganda. Today we see how the extent of this havoc, and how they were marched out of Uganda.

The Allied Democratic Forces have been training in six different camps in Eastern Zaire in present day Democratic Republic of Congo, says Brig Geoffrey K Taban, now a diplomat based Kinshasa.
Military sources say the rebel outfit has used different locations in Lhume, Mulamba, Njijo, Irengeti, Mutwanga opposite Semuliki, and Wicha, all in DRC, to build their bases, train and make attacks.
Towards the end of October 1996, ADF had been armed and camped at Lugetse near Lhume where from senior Zairean officers addressed them. It is alleged that the government of former Zaire president Joseph Mobutu, funded them, together with
However earlier, Jamilu Mukulu had visited Buhira Tactical Camp in the then Zaire following disagreements amongst his rebel ranks. Perpetrators of the confusion in the camps were tried and six of them were sentenced to death by firing squad. Reports indicated those executed included Mustafa Mutebi, Magala, Bruhan Sebunza, Mbalubu, and Hassan Gregory.
On November 13, 1996 about 6am, the Allied Democratic Forces attacked Mpondwe, Karambi and Bwera in Kasese District.
The rebels used a force of about 630 men armed with rifles supplied by the Zaire government and Sudan Khartoum government.
Another group of rebels composed of the sick, women and children was left back in Buhira camp in Congo,’ but later came following the fighters with supplies.
The commanders included; Kabanda Abudal Yusuf who was the operation commander, Kasangaki, Rujema, Waswa and Kasaigura.
The rebels’ mission was to cut off Kasese District and establish a base from where they could get their supplies. The rebel targeted Kasese Airfield which would act as a spring board for future attack.
In the build up to the Kasese invasion, the ADF structure had been divided into two main wings; the political and military wings.
Military sources add that by the time of the invasion, the rebels had not sufficiently trained so they were not prepared to attack at that time.
However, there were other circumstances that forced them out of their safe havens.
At the time, Banyamulenge (ADF-LC) were fighting to topple Joseph Mobutu in North Kivu Province Eastern Congo. The Ugandan rebels feared that they would lose ground (their camps in Eastern Congo) to the advancing Banyamulenge, if they did nothing about the situation. This prompted them to attack prematurely.
The rebels used their entire fighting prowess but made a mistake of using conventional warfare.
When in 1998, ADF attacked Kichwamba Technical College, Kiburara Seminary, Katojo Prison, Kyondo Village and Kilembe, many people were killed and others taken by force into rebel activities.
In Katojo Prison in Fort Portal, around 300 prisoners including the late sheikh Sentamu Abdul Karim, late sheikh Hassan Kirya, late Bahiga among others were released.

UPDF action
The invading rebels were repulsed by the UPDF and by November 17 1996, and killed 122 and arrested 11 rebels. The captives had been recruited from Central Uganda and Busoga region.
The army recovered 96 SMG guns, five RPG pipes, 2 LMGs, 20 Hand Held Grenade, 22 Pieces of 40mm MGL (Multiple Grenade Launchers) and 2 Pieces of 60m m MTR from Bwera and Mpondwe.
As ADF retreated from Mpondwe, Bwera, Kisinga, Mukulu allegedly ordered for planting of Anti-Personnel Mines to delay advancing UPDF troops and deny or instill fear into civilians who would want to access their gardens deep into the mountains. This maimed and injured innocent people and many lost their lives. The attack during the period led to the death of 22 innocent civilians plus 42 causalities.
According to the statistics reviewed by the study team when they visited Anti Mines Network-Rwenzori (AMNET -R), the effects were adverse in the three districts of Kasese, Bundibugyo and Kabarole with both injured and or killed victims which were caused by Un Exploded Ordinances (UXOs). The most adversely affected sub-counties were found to be those of Ihandiro, Bugoye, Kisinga, Kitholu, Kyarumba, Kyondo, Mahango, Kilembe, Maliba, Muhokya, Nyakiyumbu and Mukunyu. Overall, a total of 116 victims had been registered by the time of the study including 80 injured persons and 36 killed.
As ADF retreated, over 400 civilians were abducted by the retreating rebels. Some of the abductees were used by the rebels to carry their supplies from Congo to hide outs inside Uganda on Rwenzori mountain ranges.
After the defeat of the attack, some of the rebels crossed back to Congo for re-organization. They camped in Lhume, Huhira, Lutgese, Lusaka and Muambire near the common border. Other rebels scattered in Kasese and spread to Kabarole and Bushenyi in small groups of 6 -10. They would occasionally attack civilians ambushing, and planting landmines. The rebels also would abduct civilians and take them for training, while others would be used as guides.
The rebels established their bases in Rwenzori Mountains in strategic areas of Ngwegwe, Burangwa in Kitholhu Sub-county, Kahindangoma in Kisinga Sub county Kyabithondo in Mukunyu Sub-county and Kambasa. They planted landmines along the routes going to their camps as means of defence and early warning system.
Spread to Kabarole, Bushenyi and Bundibugyo
Due to pressure on the ADF rebels by UPDF in Kasese District, the rebels moving in small groups spread to Bushenyi, Mbarara, Kabarole and Bundibugyo and later to Kibaale district.
Their main activities were, to abduct people and use them as guides loot food stuffs and drugs, loot livestock, planting landmines, killing civilians and ambushing UPDF soldiers.

ADF Series
We traced the origin of Islam in Uganda and how tension started among the Muslim community.
The attack on UMSC and the foundation of the ADF
How the Allied Democratic Forces came into place and recruited members
How UPDF flashed ADF out of Kasese
Jamil Mukulu, the man behind the ADF