Charred homes, burnt-out vehicles and ghost villages litter the Beni-to-Komanda road, a testament to the reign of terror inflicted by the Allied Democratic Forces rebel group in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.A column of a hundred or two troop providers, led by jeeps fitted with machine guns, left Beni in Nord-Kivu province for the town of Komanda in Ituri, kicking up yellow dust on the infamous and extensively feared 105-kilometer-long (65-mile-long) road.
Along the path-- a commercial artery connecting the two provinces-- rebels of the ADF, which is presented by the Islamic State group as its central African affiliate, have meted out extreme violence against civilians-- typically with machetes and other bladed weapons.
The stretch of the "National 4" highway between Eringeti and Komanda is dotted with burnt-out automobile chassis and charred motorbikes, a sign of the violence swallowing up the area.
Abandoned homes have been recovered by nature, their former residents having actually fled months back.Family pets can be seen strolling in between huts in the towns where cocoa and coffee were planted.
Halfway along the path lies Mayi-Moya where the convoy encounters traces of fresh blood blended with cornflour and after that motorbike cabs carrying the bodies of 4 victims of the seemingly unending violence.
ADF fighters had assailed the travellers as they made their way unescorted to Eringeti.In response, the army is releasing its new canine unit deep into the forests in which the insurgents retreat after their attacks.
But the ADF typically attack in the dead of night, seeking out separated military positions and preventing hand-to-hand combat with regular forces.
Major General Camille Bombele, organizer of joint military operations with the Ugandan army in the area, said that whenever the ADF is on the back-foot, it attacks civilians in acts of "uneven warfare" in an effort to turn the population against the military.
" They are jihadists" seeking to convert the population to extreme Islam, said Bombele." They do not require people to be Catholics, Protestants, peaceful citizens."
To even more secure the road, brand-new army systems have been released at a number of points along the path.The heads of operations in the two areas held a command meeting to plan the security of civilians, who are struggling with ADF reprisals amid ongoing operations with the Ugandan army.Outside Komanda, in the town of Ngombenyama, the convoy passes locals returning from the fields and kids playing in front of their homes.
"We are delighted to see the existence of the military in our chiefdom of Walese Vokutu. It assures us! We hope that peace will be restored. This is the dream of the population," stated Paul Atibo Yope, a local chief who was visibly relieved.