How Ugandan army tracked, killed 11 ADF rebels who murdered tourists

How Ugandan army tracked, killed 11 ADF rebels who murdered tourists
Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF) troops. (Photo by Sébastien KITSA MUSAYI / AFP)

Kasese, Uganda | By Michael Wandati | On Tuesday 31, October 2023, the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) successfully neutralized 11 individuals believed to be affiliated with the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebel group. These individuals were suspected to be responsible for the recent tragic killing of two honeymooning tourists couple and a local tour guide.

Last month, within Queen Elizabeth National Park, the lives of David Barlow, a UK national, Celia Geyer from South Africa, and their Ugandan tour guide Eric Aryayi were abruptly ended by suspected ADF rebels. Since this harrowing incident, the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF), in conjunction with the Special Forces Command (SFC), had been tirelessly pursuing the culprits.

Through diligent intelligence work and a strategic deployment at Kayanja Landing Site along Lake Edward, the UPDF Marine, SFC, and Mountain Brigade successfully intercepted a boat carrying the suspected assailants, who were possibly attempting to flee back to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In a well-coordinated operation around 7 pm, heavy gunfire ensued, resulting in the death of 11 suspects.

UPDF Deputy Spokesperson Col Deo Akiiki confirmed this operation, stating, “Our forces have been tracking down this group and last night (Tuesday), they tried to sneak against using a boat on Lake Edward off Kayanja landing site and our forces doing night operations managed to get them this time round.”

The Uganda People’s Defense Forces- UPDF have captured alive one of the commanders of the Allied Democratic Forces-ADF, 31-year-old Abdul Rashid Kyoto, also known as Tembo, Njovu, and Buffalo.

The command of these operations was led by Col Saula and Col Jet, who respectively oversaw the UPDF Marine and Mountain Brigade units.

Col Akiiki added, “An intelligence-led operation saw a number of them perish under the combined fire of UPDF Marine, Special Forces, 222, 301 Brigade infantry squads in a well-coordinated night operation. It should be noted that this was a part of the group that killed the tourists. The operation is still on to finish all the splinter groups of ADF.”

Tragically, ADF-linked groups have been responsible for at least 50 deaths in the Kasese region between June and October this year. The majority of the victims were students at Lhubiriha Secondary School in Mpondwe town, near the Uganda-DRC border.

President Yoweri Museveni has repeatedly asserted that ADF camps in the DRC have been targeted and bombed through airstrikes, causing the rebels to disperse to various parts of the country.

Fred Enanga, the Police Spokesperson, noted that the ADF terrorists are now on the run after their camps were struck in the DRC.

The Intelligence-led Operation

On October 17th, a tragic incident unfolded in Uganda, claiming the lives of David Jim Barlow, a British national, and his wife, Emmaretia Celia Geyer from South Africa, who were on vacation in the country. The unfortunate incident also resulted in the loss of their Ugandan driver/guide, Eric Alyai, within Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Armed assailants were responsible for this heinous act, which included torching the victims’ vehicle and reportedly stealing some of their belongings. In response, the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) mobilized several units to identify and track down the group responsible for the attack.

ADF rebels kill 2 tourists, Ugandan guide in Queen Elizabeth National Park
The burnt tourist Land Cruiser vehicle by suspected ADF rebels.

Maj Gen Dick Olum, the commander of Operation Shujaa, expressed gratitude to the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) for providing credible intelligence that was instrumental in executing the operation.

When confronted by the UPDF, the ADF rebels made an attempt to flee into the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Regrettably, their efforts proved futile.

The confrontation with the ADF group, consisting of seven fighters in total, resulted in the deaths of four individuals who were not only shot but also drowned with all their weapons. Two others were shot and critically wounded, attempting to swim back across Lake Edward but succumbed at the lake’s shores. One among them was injured but taken into custody alive.

In total, six ADF fighters were eliminated, and one was apprehended during the operation. Subsequent to the operation, various items, including solar panels and bags, were recovered from the ADF rebels.

Read Also: Uganda arrests suspected ADF rebels spy in an operation

The Operation Shujaa commander revealed that from the items found among the group’s possessions, some belonged to the tourists who tragically lost their lives alongside their driver in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Among the retrieved items were Eric Alyai’s driving permit, DRC army uniforms, bullet magazines, saucepans, and clothing.

The captured commander of this splinter group, identified as 31-year-old Abdul Rashid Kyoto, also known as Tembo, Njovu, and Buffalo, was taken into custody after his subordinates were neutralized.

Maj Gen Dick Olum emphasized that efforts to locate and eliminate all ADF splinter groups are ongoing.

He urged the local population, particularly in Kasese, to remain vigilant and report any unfamiliar individuals in their vicinity to the authorities, as these may potentially be ADF members.