LRA Attacks the Congo

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In December 2009, the Lord’s Resistance Army attacked and murdered 321 Congolese citizens in the village of Makombo in the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to Human Rights Watch. This massacre is a testament to the LRA’s relentless tactics to dominate the region, reports The Christian Science Monitor. The LRA masqueraded as Ugandan and Congolese soldiers as they entered the village and reassured the civilians that they had nothing to fear. After invading markets, churches, and inquiring about school locations, the LRA began capturing, abducting, and killing hundreds of civilians. Not even children were spared as the LRA deliberately sought out local schools and abducted children.

BBC news reports the story of a young man who was abducted during the Makombo raid. Jean-Claude Singbatile, 17, tells BBC, "As we marched, the LRA killed people - two at one village, three at the next and then four at the next…they wanted to kill me, but the leader said I should be kept alive, as they needed strong soldiers." Fortunately, for Singbatile, he managed to run away from his captors and escape his future as an LRA militant.

Human Rights Watch reports that this is one of the worst attacks committed during the LRA’s 23-year existence, and it is shocking that such a massacre has not been publicly reported for nearly four months. An HRW report suggests that the Congolese and Ugandan governments neglected to report the attack in order to support their previous public declarations that the LRA force is weakening in the region. Even today, these governments maintain that the LRA does not have a force large enough to commit a crime of this magnitude and a Congolese spokesman, Justin Labeja, tells BBC News that the report of a massacre is a “baseless accusation.”

Whether the attacks are known publicly or not, many Congolese civilians feel hopeless and helpless once again. The attacks reignite a very real fear in the region. BBC News reports that most villagers are still too afraid to return home. Although future attacks of the LRA are unknown, Anneke van Woudenberg of HRW believes that “rather than ignoring the facts, the governments of the region and the UN peacekeepers should coordinate their efforts to protect civilians…and to resolve the LRA problem once and for all.” Otherwise, the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo will continue to live at the mercy of the Lord’s Resistance Army.

 

For more information on the history of the LRA and child soldiers, please see the following articles:

Lord’s Resistance Army: Endless Terror

Invisible Children: A Film that Sparked a Revolution

Former Ugandan Child Soldier Speaks

 

For more information on the December 2009 Massacre:

http://www.csmonitor.com/World/terrorism-security/2010/0328/Human-Rights-Watch-says-Lord-s-Resistance-Army-rampage-killed-321-in-the-Congo

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8587305.stm

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8592431.stm

 

Featured picture was taken from user United Nations Photo on www.flickr.com, which is permitted according to the Creative Commons liscence. The original picture can be found at http://www.flickr.com/photos/un_photo/3927440430/.

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