The Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) army says it has captured the largest stronghold for the Uganda-born Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels in Congo’s northeast, Reuters reported.

On Monday the army released hostages and took control of the “grand bastion” of ADF rebels in Mwalika, about 80 kilometres from Beni.

The rebels are believed to behind the deaths of 1,000 people in the Beni region in the last three years alone, according to Human Rights Watch, but dozens of them have been captured by the Congolese army and a dozen sentenced to death.

Last December, 14 Tanzanian United Nations peacekeepers were killed in the deadliest single assault on a peacekeeping mission in almost 25 years.

The Islamist ADF was formed in the 1990's in Uganda but military action by Uganda’s military forced them out of the East African country and they eventually relocated to eastern Congo.

Since the late 1990's, the ADF has operated in the DRC's North Kivu province near the border with Uganda.

While repeated military offensives against the ADF have severely affected it, the ADF has been able to regenerate because its recruitment and financial networks have remained intact. 

However, some of the attacks it has been blamed for also appear to have the involved other groups as well as Congolese Armed Forces.

- African News Agency (ANA)