The United Nations says the Lord’s Resistance Army is continuing to attack civilians in the Democratic Republic of Congo, despite a recent international offensive against the Ugandan rebel group.
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says the LRA killed as many as 100 Congolese in January.
Congolese and Ugandan officials have been saying the Lords Resistance Army is struggling to survive, but the civilian death toll continues to rise in the worst hit areas.
Speaking by telephone from Busia in eastern DRC, OCHA regional head Jean Charles Dupin told VOA the rebels are still targeting civilians.
“When they attack people they go in their houses, they loot everything. They are terrorizing the population. They are very, very angry right now,” he said.
Dupin says the violence has continued, despite renewed international efforts to crush the LRA. Recently the governments of Uganda, Congo and Southern Sudan launched a joint offensive against the rebels, but analysts say the attack failed to capture or kill the group’s commander Joseph Kony.
Under Kony’s leadership, the LRA has been accused of countless incidents of civilian abuse, including widespread abduction, rape, mutilation and murder.
Experts say that since its inception in the late 1980s the LRA has abducted vast numbers of civilians, particularly children, for training as fighters. The International Criminal Court has issued arrest warrants against Kony and other high-ranking members.
The LRA is not the only outfit inflicting terror on the Congolese population. The United Nations says separate militia groups, as well as government soldiers, have been accused of preying on civilians too.
A recent report by the Enough Project says the Congolese Army has committed numerous cases of rape and sexual violence. Government soldiers have been accused of stealing from civilians by force and disrupting the flow of aid to internally displaced people.
Analysts say the recent upshot in violence, and the alleged brutality of the LRA assaults, might be Joseph Kony’s way of sending a message to those international leaders who said his group was all but finished.
Pic: Joseph Kony