Uganda Peoples Defence Force (UPDF) soldiers, currently on a peacekeeping mission in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), have been instructed to remain vigilant and prepared for self-defense in response to potential attacks.
The directive was issued by the contingent commander, Col Michael Walaka Hyeroba, as he addressed troop commanders regarding the evolving security situation in the East African Community Rapid Deployment Capability Force (EACRF) operational areas within the Rutshuru territory.
This heightened state of alertness is a response to ongoing threats against the mission troops, who have recently been targeted in a series of attacks. In the previous month, rebels attacked and killed two Ugandan soldiers, resulting in the loss of two civilian lives as well.
On October 16, two UPDF soldiers sustained injuries during an ambush by an unidentified armed militia group along the Rukoro-Burai road in Rutshuru territory. However, UPDF troops effectively navigated the ambush and proceeded with their mission in Bunagana.
Capt Hassan Kato, the UPDF contingent spokesman, confirmed the directive from Col Michael Walaka Hyeroba, emphasizing the importance of constant alertness and readiness to act promptly. The troops were advised to be prepared for self-defense, underlining that the EACRF mandate grants them the right to defend themselves.
Col Hyeroba stressed that, in order to solidify the progress achieved, the force should be willing to face inconveniences, avoid comfort zones, and strictly adhere to standard operating procedures while fulfilling their mission. He urged commanders to prioritize force protection and be on standby, prepared to counter any hostile actions by those opposed to peace in the region.
Furthermore, Col Hyeroba tasked his troops with ensuring the safety of threatened civilians and supporting humanitarian efforts to assist the local community. The presence of the EACRF in DRC for peacekeeping purposes and regional stability hinges on safeguarding the well-being of the local populace.