16 killed in clash between DRC army and Ugandan militias By JUAKALI KAMBALE in Kinshasa | Tuesday, July 2   2013 at  15:25

Kangabayi prison in Beni, eastern DRC, where 244 prisoners were freed by suspected Ugandan militias. JUAKALI KAMBALE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

Suspected Uganda militias attacked and occupied two Congolese villages at the DR Congo-Uganda border last Sunday, reports say.

UN Radio Okapi said the attackers are believed to belong to two Ugandan rebel forces; the Allied Defence Forces (ADF) and the National Army for Liberation of Uganda (NALU).

According to Okapi, the militias took control of the villages of Mamundioma and Totolito following three days of heavy fighting with DRC troops.

The two villages are located about 45km northeast of Beni town in North Kivu Province.

According to Colonel Richard Bisamaza, the deputy commander of the local sector of the DRC army, 12 Ugandan rebels and four Congolese soldiers were killed in the fighting.

The district of Beni, which neighbours Uganda, has continuously been subjected to attacks by Ugandan militias for some two decades now.

ADF and NALU rebels ostensibly target the Uganda regime, but have been known to frequently target DRC villages.

The Ugandan militias are based mainly around the Rwenzori massif, not far from the border.

They used to launch attacks against Ugandan towns, but have lately increased their attacks on trucks belonging to DRC businessmen.

On June 28, they kidnapped two people near the city of Mbau and killed a policeman who was guarding a filling station.

Mr Teddy Kataliko, the local representative of the North Kivu civil society organisations, told reporters that he feared these Ugandan militias would target other locations.

Mayor attacked

A general climate of unrest prevails in the whole district, not only due to the ADF and NALU attacks, but also due to the activities of local DRC armed groups.

On Monday, a largely unknown armed group attacked the prison the Beni prison, presumably to free some of its jailed members.

The mayor of the town, Mr Bwanakawa Nyonyi, confirmed the attack to the Africa Review.

“The attack occurred at around 4am (local time) at Kangabayi prison in the town of Beni. About 244 prisoners out of 360 were freed, among them figures belonging to the armed group. Two Congolese army officers got killed during the surprise attack," he said.

Mr Nyonyi's residence was itself subject to an attack by the armed group in April this year.

“I was dining at home at 8pm when they got in my house armed. I miraculously escaped through the window," he said.

The mayor appealed to the Uganda government to hold talks with the ADF and NALU rebels to find an internal solution as DRC officials did with the M23 rebel movement.

“It is the best way of restoring peace in the region”, he added.