U.S. imposes sanctions on Islamist group in Congo for targeting children

WASHINGTON Tue Jul 1, 2014 10:33am EDT

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Tuesday blacklisted a Ugandan Islamic group, the Allied Democratic Forces, for targeting children in armed conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The move, which freezes the group's assets in the United States and blocks U.S. firms from dealing with it, follows a U.N. Security Council committee decision on Monday to blacklist the same group.

The U.S. Treasury said the ADF launched attacks against civilians in the DRC last year, including women and children, forcing thousands of people to escape into neighboring Uganda. The Treasury said the group kidnapped people and recruited some children as young as 10 years old to join its ranks.

"We condemn in the strongest terms the ADF's activities and continuing violence against civilians," David Cohen, Treasury's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement. "The international community made clear that groups responsible for such atrocities must be isolated."

The ADF - also known as the ADF-National Army for the Liberation of Uganda - was created to fight the Ugandan government, but was forced across the border into Congo. Treasury officials estimate it to have between 1,200 and 1,500 fighters.

The Ugandan government says the ADF is allied to elements of Somalia's al Shabaab movement, an al Qaeda-linked group. U.N. experts say most of ADF's money comes from the timber industry and gold, which is smuggled into Uganda and sold.

(Reporting by Anna Yukhananov; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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