Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The photo above, by Peter Martell, of the UN's humanitarian news agency, IRIN, contradicts claims by the Uganda army that subcommanders in the Lord's Resistance Army want to surrender.

Led by the self-proclaimed prophet and spirit medium, Josephy Kony, the LRA has been on bloody rampage the past six weeks in northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.

At least 700 people, all innocent civilians, have been killed as revenge against a Dec. 14 attack on LRA camps in the DRC's Garamba National Park by the Ugandan army.

Pictured above are children now in South Sudan who have fled the LRA, some of whom were forced by the LRA to watch as their parents were hacked to death.

"The LRA [Lord's Resistance Army] attacked our village of Diko [on 4 January], taking 10 people with them," Saleh Sebit, a village elder, told IRIN. "We do not know where they are, and we fear they are now dead."

One eight-year-old boy said he was forced to watch rebel fighters chop the legs and arms off his father and a companion, before they beat the men to death with a wooden club, IRIN was told.

"The LRA attacked two tractors as [they were] coming with people to Mundiri," added Sebit. "They fired, killing one, and set fire to the vehicles."

Sebit and the boy are just two of an estimated 8,000 people displaced in a recent upsurge of attacks on farming villages in Sudan's Western Equatoria state. Many of the displaced, according to state officials, are now staying with relatives, according to IRIN.

These attacks also question the claims by the government of South Sudan that it has "closed" its border with the DRC, in an effort to prevent the LRA from entering the country and killing civilians.

Meanwhile, the Kampala-based Daily Monitor newspaper, quotes the Uganda military as saying that the LRA's sub-commanders want to surrender.

The army said it couldn't name the commanders because they they'd be killed by Kony, just as he did in October 2007 to his long-time deputy commander, Vincent Otti.

The reports were a progress report sent to the media by Capt. Deo Akiiki, the spokesman for the latest military offensive against the LRA dubbed, “Operation Lightning Thunder,” according to the Monitor.

“We assure Ugandans that this Kony nuisance will come to the end. We are in touch with some LRA commanders and soon or later they will surrender to us. Those who will persist will either be captured or killed in the jungles,” Capt. Akiiki said.

He said apart from contacting the army with a proposal to surrender; the rebel commanders have also approached some Non-governmental Organisations over the same matter.