Hundreds of Ugandan troops cross into the Democratic Republic of Congo to secure bases belonging to the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).

The military operation appears to be more ambitious than the last time Uganda's army attacked the ADF in DRC in 2017.
The military operation appears to be more ambitious than the last time Uganda's army attacked the ADF in DRC in 2017. (Reuters)

Hundreds of Ugandan soldiers in armoured vehicles have crossed the border into eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, as a joint offensive against a Daesh-linked armed group appeared to expand.

"I have just seen 30 vehicles full of Ugandan soldiers entering Congo,” Blaise Bokassa, a local resident and civil rights activist, said about Wednesday morning’s crossing.

“I also saw two tanks," he added.

Late on Tuesday, DRC said special forces from both countries would be deployed to secure bases belonging to the militia, which had been targeted by air and artillery strikes earlier in the day.

The campaign takes place after months of lobbying of regional governments by President Felix Tshisekedi, whose own efforts to end the decades of bloodshed in DRC's east have been stalled by poor planning, corruption and insufficient funding, according to a parliamentary report.

A Ugandan army spokesperson said she could not immediately comment. DRC's government spokesperson Patrick Muyaya said he had no further information.

READ MORE: Uganda, DRC launch joint military action against Daesh-linked militia

Unease over Uganda's involvement

Little is currently known about the scope and duration of the operation, said Nelleke Van de Walle from the Brussels-based think tank International Crisis Group.

However, it appeared to be more ambitious than the last time Uganda's army attacked the ADF in DRC in 2017 when it said it killed 100 fighters in air strikes.

Although welcomed by some, it has also provoked unease in both capitals because of the Ugandan army's conduct during DRC's 1998-2003 civil war, for which Kinshasa is seeking billions of dollars of reparations. 

"We fear we could see the same illegal activities that happened during the past deployment, stealing gold and those other commodities," Ugandan opposition lawmaker Joel Ssenyonyi said.

"They needed parliamentary permission so we can debate why they need to go there. Is there a legitimate justification or are they going there to steal again?"

READ MORE: Suspected ADF militants kill dozens in northeast DRC

READ MORE: Several civilians killed in DRC by Daesh-linked militants

Source: Reuters