What you need to know:
- UPDF began aerial assault in the wee hours on bases of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels in Ituri and Beni territories.
Residents of Ntoroko and Bundibugyo districts were yesterday thrown into panic as sounds of exploding bombs echoed from across the eastern side of the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
However, farther north in West Nile, human activity remained normal on both sides of the Uganda-DRC border, according to Mr Corneille Aluma, the spokesperson for Aru Territory in Ituri Province.
Uganda massed up its troops along the frontier and the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) began aerial assault in the wee hours on bases of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels in Ituri and Beni territories.
“People here are not in panic because this was an agreement between Uganda and our government (DRC) to fight the rebels. People are aware of what was going to happen,” Mr Aluma said.
Besides Arua City, Aru and the neighbouring Mahagi territories in DRC border six West Nile districts - Arua, Maracha, Koboko, Nebbi, Pakwach, and Zombo.
Mahagi MP in DRC Thoniot Muber told this newspaper shortly after returning to Bunia from Kinshasa, that the “security situation is normal. People are moving to different parts of the country normally”.
This calm in Ituri and West Nile contrasted the panic in western Uganda because of the bombardments.
Mr Victor Malisaba, a resident of Butogho in Mirambi Sub-county, Bundibugyo District, which borders DRC, said they began hearing gunfire at around 7am.
He said a few minutes later, he saw huge smoke on the side of DRC, not very far from the border.
“As residents, we were so scared because we didn’t know what was going on,” he said.
Mr Andrew Bakahwerayo, a resident of Nyahuka Village in Bundibugyo District, said UPDF transported several soldiers to Busunga border point and they camped at a nearby primary school.
Ms Daphne Katusabe, from Karugutu Trading Centre, said gunshots rang out from the Congo side between 6am to 9am.
A combat helicopter hovered over the border area early, adding to the residents’ anxiety and fears.
Things normalised, according to residents, when information began circulating that the Ugandan military had launched an offensive to flush out ADF and other rebel, as well as militia groups in DRC’s North Kivu province.
“The situation is now normal. People are doing their business in Nyakhuka Trading Centre,” Mr Bakahwerayo said.
At a separate meeting, Lt Col Emmy Katabazi, the deputy director-general of the Internal Security Organisation (ISO), said President Museveni and his Congolese counterpart Felix Tshisekedi agreed to decisively resolve the problem of insecurity in eastern DRC.
“…they have already agreed on some measures to ensure the problem of insecurity emanating from DR Congo is handled decisively and for the last time,” he said in an address to local leaders and security personnel at Bundibugyo Primary Teachers College.
By Felix Warom Okello, Alex Ashaba & Longino Muhindo