Operation Kitona

Operation Kitona was a Rwandan/Ugandan offensive that marked the beginning of the Second Congo War. Rwanda hoped to depose Laurent-Désiré Kabila and install a government more favorable to Rwanda's interests by quickly taking control of Kinshasa and the strategic western province of Bas-Congo (today Kongo Central). On August 4, 1998, joint Rwandan and Ugandan forces launched a surprise attack on Kitona airbase in Western Congo using hijacked civilian airliners. While initially successful in taking control of major ports and infrastructure, Zimbabwean and Angolan intervention prevented the Rwandans and Ugandans from taking control of Kinshasa. The invading forces were forced to withdraw to the jungles of Angola until they were evacuated by air to Rwanda in late 1998.

Operation Kitona
Part of Second Congo War
Date4 August 1998 – 30 August 1998
Bas-Congo and Kinshasa Provinces in Western Congo
05°55′05″S 012°26′51″E
Result Congolese victory
FAZ Mutineers
(Limited to assisting the Rwandan retreat)
 DR Congo
(From 8 August)

(From 22 August)
Commanders and leaders
James Kabarebe
James Kazini

Laurent-Désiré Kabila

Perrance Shiri
Mike Nyambuya
José Eduardo dos Santos
Units involved


  • High Command Unit Commandos
  • 3 RPA Battalions


  • Nguruma Battalion
  • Various Light Artillery




3,000+ Rwandan and Ugandan Regulars

15,000+ Congolese Rebels

 DR Congo Unknown
 Zimbabwe 800+

 Angola 2,500+
Casualties and losses
Unknown (Likely in the thousands) Unknown
Thousands of civilian casualties
Location within Democratic Republic of the Congo

Today the operation is studied for its daring initial aerial assault, as well as the intelligence failures on the Rwandan side.

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