Top ADF leader arrested in eastern DR Congo

Benjamin Kisokeranio

What you need to know:

  • The Islamic State group (IS) presents the ADF as its regional branch -- the Islamic State Central Africa Province, or ISCAP.

One of the founders of a rebel group of Ugandan origin operating in the east of the DR Congo has been arrested, military sources in both countries said Wednesday.

The arrest of the top Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) figure occurred on Tuesday outside the zone where the two countries are carrying out operations, they said.

"Benjamin Kisokeranio, officially the ADF intelligence chief until 2019 and close to former ADF chief Jamil Mukulu, was arrested yesterday (Tuesday) in the Uvira region of South Kivu," a high-ranking Congolese military official told AFP, requesting anonymity.

"He was known to our services who were following his incessant movements in the region," the official said, adding that he was carrying a Congolese passport.

A spokesman for the Ugandan army, Ronald Kakurungu, said Kisokeranio was captured near the border with Burundi and was now "in the hands of DRC forces".

According to Kampala, Kisokeranio was in charge of intelligence, finances and logistics for the ADF, the deadliest of dozens of armed groups operating in the mineral-rich region.

The group is blamed for thousands of killings in North Kivu province and for recent bomb attacks in Uganda. 

Kisokeranio's father Bwambale Kisokeranio was the founder of another Ugandan rebel group, the secular NALU, which joined forces in 1995 with mainly Muslim militias operating in the eastern DRC.

In 2007, after negotiations with Kampala, the elder Kisokeranio and several NALU rebels returned to Uganda.

But Benjamin Kisokeranio remained with the ADF in the DRC jungle along with Alilabaki Kyagulanyi, alias Jamil Mukulu, and the late Ugandan lawmaker Yusuf Kabanda, according to a former UN official who was in charge of repatriating the NALU branch.

The Islamic State group (IS) presents the ADF as its regional branch -- the Islamic State Central Africa Province, or ISCAP.

Its current leader, Moussa Baluku, declared his allegiance to IS in 2019.

"Benjamin Kisokeranio opposed this move and left the Beni region for the neighbouring province of South Kivu from where he shuttled to Burundi to see his family," the former UN official said.

The Congolese and Ugandan armies launched a joint operation against ADF positions on November 30.

The DRC army carried out new strikes on Wednesday against ADF rebel positions in the Beni area, an AFP correspondent saw.