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DRC-UGANDA: LRA torture of civilians continues

NAIROBI, 17 July 2009 (IRIN) - The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) is continuing to kill and kidnap civilians in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), according to the UN.

In the first fortnight of July alone, the Ugandan rebel group carried out 33 attacks in the districts of Upper and Lower Uele, killing 26 civilians and abducting 144, according to a report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Six of those abducted were children. The LRA has a long history of boosting its ranks by kidnapping children, forcing boys to fight and girls into sexual slavery. On 12 July, DRC troops clashed with LRA fighters in the area, freeing one abducted child, the report stated.

Fifteen children abducted by the LRA on the night of 14 July were freed a few hours later after local self-defence groups took on the Ugandan rebels, according to Radio Okapi, which is run by the UN Mission in DRC (MONUC).

Following an assault by Ugandan troops in December – mounted after Joseph Kony, the LRA leader and International Criminal Court indictee, yet again failed to sign a peace deal - the rebel group went on the rampage in northeastern DRC, killing more than 1,000 civilians.

The LRA “remains a serious security challenge that will require the sustained commitment of all governments and UN missions in the sub-region, if the group is to be effectively contained and neutralized”, Alan Doss, Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the DRC, said in a 10 July report to the UN Security Council.

Citing DRC army figures, Doss also noted that a military operation against the LRA had met with some success, with 109 fighters killed and 115 arrested as of late-June. The LRA is also active in Southern Sudan and the Central African Republic.

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Copyright © IRIN 2009
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