By Elizabeth Kendal
Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin (RLPB) 283
Special to ASSIST News Service
AUSTRALIA (ANS) -- Supporting International Day of Prayer (IDOP) for the Persecuted Church
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: ISLAMIC REBELS SLAUGHTER VILLAGERS
By Elizabeth Kendal
Bordering South Sudan, Uganda and Rwanda, the heavily forested, mineral-rich, north-east region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has long been wracked with insecurity. Numerous armed groups including the Lord's Resistance Army, the M23 militia, the Mai Mai, and most recently the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) have inflicted immense suffering on the predominantly Christian communities that dot the region. For the Congolese Army, it is a perpetual war zone.
On Thursday evening 16 October ADF fighters armed with machetes and other blades attacked the Ngadi and Kadowu neighbourhoods on the northern outskirts of Beni City in North Kivu Province, which borders Uganda. Twenty-six local residents were killed and dozens wounded in a rampage of appalling violence. Earlier, on 10 October ADF rebels attacked nearby Oicha, killing nine people including small children. On Friday evening 17 October ADF fighters attacked the town of Eringeti, about 55km north-east of Beni City. Using machetes, axes and hoes, they slaughtered four men, ten women and eight children, bringing the toll from ten days of extreme violence to at least 80 dead, with hundreds wounded and more than 50 women raped. On Saturday night 18 October unidentified bandits compounded the insecurity when they raided a jail in Butembo, south of Beni, releasing some 370 prisoners. Local people have begun organising their own defence militias, fearing that the Congolese Army is incapable of keeping them secure. By Sunday 19 October the exodus had begun with people fleeing the area.
The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) is a Ugandan militia that formed in 1989 aiming to overthrow the Ugandan government of President Yoweri Museveni and replace it with Islamic rule. It is the product of a merger between the Islamic fundamentalist proselytising Tabliq sect and remnant fighters from the (Islamic) National Army for the Liberation of Uganda (NALU). Reportedly the ADF also includes several former commanders from Idi Amin's army. The ADF's founder and leader, designated terrorist Jamil Mukulu (68), was a Catholic and outspoken critic of Islam until Muslim scholars won him over and he converted to Islam. Mukulu spent the early 1990s in Khartoum, Sudan, where he became close to Osama bin Laden and several leading Sudanese Islamists in the ruling regime. The ADF became operational in 1995, committing several terrorist attacks before the Ugandan Army drove it out of the country and into the DRC in 2002.
Mukulu laid low for the next decade, focusing on recruitment, indoctrination, illegal gold mining and timber smuggling. The ADF receives support from the Islamic regime in Khartoum which sponsors proxies to destabilise the predominantly Christian states neighbouring and allied to South Sudan, i.e. Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, DRC and Central African Republic. Since 2002 the ADF is said to have killed around 3000 Congolese and kidnapped over 900, including some 600 Congolese women and girls. Women who have escaped report being kept in a hole in the ground and only taken out to be used for sex. Sources report that in the Oicha region, north of Beni, many priests and doctors have been kidnapped with those refusing to convert to Islam beheaded.
The ADF resurfaced as a fighting force in 2012 and reportedly has developed ties with the Somali terror group al-Shabaab. Ex-ADF fighters report that Mukulu has been sending trained jihadists to Somalia since November 2011. Mukulu was implicated in the September 2013 Westgate shopping mall attack in Nairobi, Kenya, amidst claims that he is seeking to establish himself as an al-Qaeda leader in east Africa. Since January 2014 the ADF has been under severe pressure as the Congolese Army has gained ground, capturing some of its main bases. It seems the ADF is retaliating by escalating its terrorism against civilians. DRC is 92 percent Christian and Uganda is 85 percent Christian. This is a spiritual battle, and 'we are not ignorant of [Satan's] designs'. (2 Cor 2:10-11 ESV)
PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT GOD WILL --
- thwart Sudan's plans to destabilise the region, thwart the ADF's plans to terrorise and Islamise Christian peoples and thwart Jamil Mukulu's terrorist ambitions. 'The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples.' (Psalm 33:10 ESV)
- draw the people of terror-stricken North Kivu province into prayer, may their prayers be answered and may the Church in north-east DRC grow in faith.
- impress his grief on all the churches across DRC and Uganda, so those in the troubled border region are not left to face this trial alone; may believers unite in prayer, calling on the LORD for peace and security in DRC and the wider region. 'Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD ...' (Psalm 33:12a ESV)