The Lord’s Resistance Army, a cultish militia that has terrorized parts of Africa for decades, has launched a new spate of attacks in Democratic Republic of Congo this year after a lull in the second half of 2011, the UN refugee agency UNHCR said on Tuesday.
One person has been killed, 17 abducted and 3,000 displaced in 20 attacks in Orientale province in northeastern Congo this year. The renewed violence was a cause of concern, UNHCR said.
“In the last year the area was more secure,” said Celine Schmitt, a UNHCR spokeswoman by phone from Kinshasa.
But Mounoubai Madnodje, a spokesman for the UN’s Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, said the LRA was on its last legs.
“We think right now it’s the last gasp of a dying organization that’s still trying to make a statement,” he said.
The LRA, which emerged in northern Uganda in the late 1990s, is believed to have killed, kidnapped and mutilated tens of thousands of people in a reign of terror across some of Africa’s most remote and hostile terrain.
It appears to have lost much of its power under mounting pressure. Its leader Joseph Kony is wanted by the International Criminal Court, the African Union has designated it as a terrorist group, and in October the United States sent 100 military personnel, mainly special forces, to train and advise the forces fighting against the LRA.
Madnodje said there are only about 200 LRA fighters left. [...]
But experts on the LRA were skeptical about writing off Kony’s force too soon. Mareike Schomerus at the London School of Economics said small scale attacks did not necessarily mean the LRA was getting weaker.
“It doesn’t tell us anything because it’s the same thing they have been doing for the last 25 years,” she said. “They tend to attack more when they’re under military pressure and military pressure has been increasing in the last few months, since October especially.
Meanwhile, the Associated Press says:
American filmmakers who reported on wartime atrocities in Africa for a 50-minute work called “Invisible Children” drew more attention than they imagined when their project was released in 2005. They soon founded a nonprofit organization to campaign against the brutality.
The group’s new 29-minute video is gaining even more attention, thanks to social media. The work released Monday is part of an effort called KONY 2012 that targets the Lord’s Resistance Army and its leader, Joseph Kony, a bush fighter wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. [...]
Invisible Children occupies a small office tower in San Diego, where its three founders were raised. With a staff of about 40, aided by interns, the group trains people for six-week stints at its headquarters to spread the word of LRA atrocities. [...]
Last year, the group began installing high frequency radios in Africa’s remotest jungle to help track militia attacks in Congo, Central African Republic and South Sudan. People in areas without phones can report attacks on the radios to people who put them on a website called the LRA Crisis Tracker.