On Tuesday, a high-ranking ADF militia commander was apprehended in connection with the murder of two foreign tourists in Uganda. On Friday, further charges were unveiled linking him to a school massacre that occurred in June. The arrested commander, Abdul Rashid Kyoto, also known as Njovu, was captured alongside six other members of the commando group accused of the heinous killings of a British and a South African honeymooner, along with their guide, in Queen Elizabeth Park on October 17.
The ADF rebels, affiliated with the jihadist group Islamic State, had previously faced accusations from Ugandan authorities regarding attacks on a school in the western town of Mpondwe on June 17. The assault resulted in the tragic deaths of 42 individuals. Additionally, another attack took place on October 28 in Kasindi, eastern DRC, in which four people were killed, including two Ugandan soldiers. General Dick Olum, leading an anti-ADF operation in the DRC, emphasized a correlation between these attacks and Njovu’s command, affirming that it was the same individual who oversaw these atrocities, as well as the assault on the two tourists and their guide.
“We have a lot of information on the ADF. We know who led these missions to kill people,” General Olum stated. He conveyed the message that Njovu’s capture should provide reassurance to Ugandans and tourists alike, highlighting the ongoing operations aimed at ensuring Uganda’s safety and the defeat of the ADF.
The tragic murders of the two tourists in one of Uganda’s renowned national parks had raised concerns within the country’s tourism sector. The tourism industry contributed to nearly 10% of Uganda’s GDP in the previous year, according to official figures.
Originally formed by Ugandan rebels with a Muslim majority, the ADF expanded its activities to eastern DRC during the 1990s. In 2019, the group pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, which has claimed responsibility for several of their actions and presents them as its “Central African Province” (Iscap). The ADF has been accused of committing mass atrocities against civilians in the DRC in recent years and carrying out jihadist attacks on Ugandan soil.
On Thursday, a Ugandan court issued sentences to seven individuals, ranging from seven to ten years in prison, for their association with the ADF. These individuals pleaded guilty to various charges, including membership in a “terrorist organization,” financing terrorism, and child trafficking for recruitment into the ADF. One defendant also confessed to recruiting his own children into the ADF and committing acts of sexual assault.