Congo seeks extradition of Islamist rebel chief from Tanzania

Reuters , Monday 11 May 2015

Democratic Republic of Congo has sent a delegation to Tanzania to request the extradition of the leader of a Ugandan Islamist group blamed for massacres in eastern Congo, Congo's justice minister said on Monday.

Jamil Mukulu, head of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), was arrested in Tanzania in late April. His group was formed in the 1990s to fight the Ugandan government but now operates primarily on the Congolese side of the border.

"There is a delegation that left for Tanzania yesterday with the dossier," minister Alexis Thambwe told Reuters.

Thambwe said he had assured the Tanzanian government Mukulu would not be executed.

A Ugandan team is also in Tanzania to lobby for Mukulu's extradition, Ugandan security sources told Reuters. They said they were not aware of Congo's wish to extradite but would be willing to discuss the issue.

Mukulu, who has been under U.N. sanctions since 2011, is a Ugandan national but Thambwe said he should be extradited to Congo because he had committed his most serious crimes there.

Attacks by the group in western Uganda and the capital Kampala killed 1,000 people between 1998 and 2000, according to International Crisis Group, but ADF relocated to the Congolese side of the border following operations by the Ugandan army.

From eastern Congo, the group has profited through lucrative cross-border trade in timber and minerals and is responsible for executions, kidnappings, torture and rape, according to rights groups.

The Congolese army launched a major operation against the ADF last year that it says has dramatically weakened the group, and estimates its current strength at as few as 50 fighters.

But that has failed to prevent a string of overnight massacres since October near the town of Beni in North Kivu province, most carried out with machetes and hatchets, that the government has blamed on the ADF, though analysts caution that other groups are likely to be involved as well.

The army has also blamed ADF fighters for an ambush on U.N. peacekeepers last week that killed two and wounded 13 Tanzanian troops. 

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