A recent operation by the Uganda Peoples’ Defense Forces (UPDF) on Lake Edward has resulted in the elimination of a substantial number of rebels associated with the Islamic State-affiliated Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). This operation aimed to address security concerns following a deadly attack in Queen Elizabeth National Park on October 17, 2023.
Operation Target: ADF Rebels
The UPDF deputy spokesperson, Col Deo Akiiki, confirmed that the operation targeted ADF rebels associated with the IS group. These militants were traveling by boat on Lake Edward, which spans across Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The mission was a coordinated intelligence-led operation near the Kayanja Landing site in Kasese District.
Connection to Tourist Attack
Col Akiiki stressed that the insurgents eliminated during the operation were directly linked to the attack on a honeymoon couple and their tour guide within Queen Elizabeth National Park. This attack prompted the UPDF to take action against the ADF.
The UPDF emphasizes that the operation is ongoing, with the objective of eliminating all remaining splinter groups associated with the ADF. To accomplish this, various military units, including UPDF marine units, Special Forces, and infantry squads from the 222nd and 301st Brigades, are involved.
Appeal to Residents
The UPDF urges residents of Kasese to cooperate with the security forces actively pursuing ADF rebels. Their cooperation is crucial in preventing further incursions into the district.
Continued Security Measures
As of midday on Wednesday, heavily armed security forces continued to maintain a presence around Lake Edward. This increased security presence is a response to the recent attack, as the region’s tourism sector has been significantly affected.
Nicholas Kagongo, the manager of Katwe Eco Tourism Information Center in the Katwe-Kabatooro Town Council, Kasese district, noted the negative impact on tourism in the area. Bookings for tourists, including 16 from Costa Rica, had to be canceled following the attack on Lake Edward.
Victims of the Attack
The attack that prompted this operation tragically claimed the lives of Briton David Jim Barlow, his wife Emmaretia Cecilia Geyer, and their guide Eric Alyai. They were victims of a suspected ADF terrorist attack while touring within Queen Elizabeth National Park.