The Lord’s Resistance Army rebels have resumed attacks against civilians in the Democratic Republic of Congo, leaving thousands displaced.
The new wave of attacks came after a lull of six months in DR Congo and Central African Republic where the rebels are currently operating.
At least 10 people have been abducted and 3,000 displaced in 20 attacks in Orientale Province, north-eastern DR Congo this year, said the UN refugee agency UNHCR
The overall commander of UPDF operations in Central African Republic and South Sudan, Col. Joseph Balikudembe, confirmed the attacks, saying they are occurring regularly.
The new spate of rebel attacks have increased after UPDF withdrew from DR Congo in November last year, leaving a security vacuum.
“The attacks by LRA in DR Congo are almost on a daily basis. UPDF left DR Congo early November 2011. FARDC [Military of the Republic of the Congo] are handling them. We only monitor these activities along the border with DRC, where we have deployments,” Col. Balikudembe said.
Pressure to withdraw
According to military sources, UPDF withdrew from the vast central African country after the opposition politicians in Kinshasha called for the withdrawal of the Ugandan army from their territory.
UPDF had deployed troops in Dungu and Orientale province, where LRA was massacring and abducting people.
This lack of cooperation may hamper the operations against the LRA and its leader Joseph Kony, who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court. The UPDF fighting squads are deployed at the DR Congo and Central African Republic border.
When asked whether it was the LRA second in command, Okot Odhiambo, commanding the attacks, Col. Balikudembe said, Odhiambo is not in DR Congo.
“Odhiambo is not in DRC, I can’t tell which LRA commander is behind the recent spate of attacks,” he said.
Mounoubai Madnodje, a spokesman for the UN’s Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, was quoted by agencies, saying there are only about 200 LRA fighters left. They work in small groups of five or six, raiding villages for food and forcing one or two people to work as porters.