In eastern Congo, North Kivu and Ituri provinces have been under martial law and a “state of siege” for three weeks. For many Congolese this is seen as long overdue. The reason is obvious to anyone familiar with the unremitting violent attacks by terrorist groups and rogue militias in eastern Congo. Islamic terror group ADF (Allied Democratic Forces) has been the most notorious of several consistently violent groups. President Felix Tshisekedi inherited the mess in the east when he took power two years ago and promised to finally do something about it. Since 2019 he has ordered two major military offensives but that failed to eliminate the militias.
Martial law will initially last 30 days and be subject to renewal if the militia violence persists. It’s no surprise that not everyone in North Kivu and Ituri agrees with the imposition of martial law. Martial law means the military has taken complete control from civilian authorities. Soldiers can ban meetings, restrict individual movement, search homes without a warrant, arrest anyone at any time on the charge of disrupting public order and then try them in a military court or tribunal. Many Congolese distrust the army and for a good reason: many of its officers and non-coms are corrupt and many of its soldiers are incompetent. The two newly appointed military provincial governors both face accusations of responsibility for atrocities by units and soldiers under their command. Stay tuned. (Austin Bay)
May 24, 2021: In western Rwanda (Western Province) the army claimed its soldiers killed two FLN (National Liberation Front) rebels in an ambush. The FLN fighters were caught while planning an attack. The rebels had recently moved unnoticed from northwest Burundi and were first detected by civilians near the border who alerted the army and this led to the ambush. The surviving rebels quickly retreated into Burundi. The FLN was created by Hutu extremists responsible for 1994 Rwandan genocide. A counterattack by the Tutsi victims drove some of the genocidal Hutu factions into eastern Congo, where they have been based ever since. FLN still believes it can regain control of Rwanda and often tries sneaking into Rwanda to carry out attacks. The Congo border is closely watched by Rwandan security forces and now FLN is trying to get in safely via Burundi.
May 23, 2021: In eastern Congo (North Kivu province) residents of Goma, the provincial capital, believe the worst is over now that a huge lava flow from Mount Nyiragongo stopped outside the city. The volcano erupted yesterday and destroyed over 500 homes, killed at least 15 and caused about 8,000 people to flee into neighboring Rwanda. Congo estimates another 25,000 fled to higher ground west of Goma. With all this rapid and unexpected population movement about 170 children have been reported missing. Over the next few days the tremors continued and the lava flow threatened key roads into the city.
May 22, 2021: In CAR (Central African Republic) peacekeepers report that armed violence decreased during March and April. This is attributed to the decrease in operations of peacekeepers local troops that have regained control over previously rebel-occupied territory.
May 18, 2021: In eastern Congo (North Kivu and Ituri provinces) soldiers have killed 22 rebel fighters in an operation that began when martial law began twelve days ago. The main target is the ADF, the primary troublemaker since the 1990s. Troops also arrested 60 ADF collaborators and twenty percent were not Congolese. Several were identified as Ugandan citizens. The ADF was originally a Ugandan Islamist rebel group. Two months ago, the U.S. designated ADF a “foreign terrorist organization” because of its suspected links to ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant). RUMINT (Rumor Intelligence) claims that ISIL is trying to establish a presence in east-central Congo (Maniema province), which has a large Moslem minority population.
May 17, 2021: Uganda announced that it will share intelligence with Congo and coordinate security operations to combat Islamic terrorist rebels operating in Congo.
May 15, 2021: A Congolese court sentenced 30 people to death, after a one-day trial, for participating in anti-police violence that erupted in Kinshasa at the end of the Moslem holy month of Ramadan. The violence erupted May 12 and 13 when two rival Muslim groups began fighting over the right to use a sports stadium to mark the end of Ramadan. The fighting killed a policeman and left over 40 people wounded. Apparently all this was captured on video. Congo has not carried out a death sentence since 2003. Death sentences are usually commuted to life in prison.
May 12, 2021: Congo and Uganda have agreed to establish a joint operations center in eastern Congo (North Kivu province). The center will control operations against the ADF and other rebel groups. The agreement means Congo and Uganda intend to conduct joint offensive operations. Congolese and Ugandan officers were meeting in the city of Beni (North Kivu province).
May 11, 2021: Zambia and Botswana have opened a major road and rail bridge over the Zambezi River. The bridge directly links the two countries. It avoids the current major freight transport route that runs through Zimbabwe and South Africa.
May 10, 2021: In CAR (Central African Republic) police arrested a French citizen who is accused of supporting rebel groups. The police discovered a large stockpile of ammunition and weapons in his residence as well as large amounts of cash. The man was later identified as a former paratrooper in the French Army.
a female peacekeeper from Malawi was killed during an attack by ADF rebels. The ADF had attacked a village about 20 km southeast of Beni, the largest city in the province. The attack left repulsed but not before at least four civilians were killed in addition to the peacekeeper.
May 6, 2021: President Tshisekedi declared martial law in two eastern provinces (North Kivu and Ituri).
May 3, 2021: In eastern Congo (North Kivu province) a recent Ebola virus outbreak is over. During this minor outbreak the virus infected 12 people, leaving six of them dead.
April 29, 2021: In Tanzania, local and Burundian police have begun forcing Burundian refugees to return to Burundi. During 2015’s political turmoil around 150,000 Burundians fled to Tanzania. An estimated 145,000 remain, most of them living in three refugee camps, Mtendeli, Nyarugusu and Nduta. All three are located in northwest Tanzania near the town of Kigoma. The Burundian and Tanzanian government's claim Burundi is safe. The refugees disagree.