Cult-like LRA militia launches new attacks; Viral video goes after its leader

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.

Reuters reports

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.

VIRAL VIDEO

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.

It should be noted that the US Government has long fought against the International Criminal Court, trying to undermine it in fear of having its leaders and soldiers charged with war crimes.

Joseph Kony: I will use the Ten Commandments to liberate Uganda
Research resources on the LRA

Ugandan troops had wanted LRA leader in its sights

The ruthless African bush fighter that some 100 U.S. military advisers will soon help hunt down was almost caught by Ugandan troops earlier this month, a military official said Monday.

The Associated Press reports

Ugandan troops almost caught Joseph Kony, the leader of the so-called Lord’s Resistance Army, in the village of Ndjema in the impoverished nation of Central African Republic, Col. Felix Kulayigye, spokesman for Uganda’s military spokesman, told The Associated Press by phone. But Kony’s guards were fanned out around him and began exchanging gunfire with the Ugandan squad.

“What happened is that he escaped,” Kulayigye said from Kampala, Uganda. “The squad that was chasing him was unable to get him because those that guard him guard from a distance and engaged our forces before we could reach him.”

President Barack Obama announced Friday he is dispatching about 100 U.S. troops – mostly special operations forces – to central Africa to advise in the fight against the Lord’s Resistance Army, a guerrilla group Kony leads accused of widespread atrocities across several countries.

Kony is wanted by the International Criminal Court for heinous attacks in multiple countries.

The U.S. government has long opposed the ICC, undermining its authority with bribes and threats.

AP quotes U.S. official Virgina Blaser as saying the LRA has been responsible for at least 2,400 attacks and 3,400 abductions since 2008. The news agency notes:

Some experts suggest that the U.S. move is to reward Uganda for its contributions to the African Union force in Somalia that fights the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab militia.

Common front against Lord’s Resistance Army rebels urged

Co-ordinated action must be taken to end the long-running brutal campaign by the Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels, leaders from the four countries affected said yesterday.

A rare three-day meeting of 30 religious and community leaders as well as local government officials from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), south Sudan, the Central African Republic (CAR) and Uganda criticised the “lack of a co-ordinated and comprehensive strategy” to tackle the rebels.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed in two decades of fighting since LRA chief Joseph Kony took up arms, initially against the Ugandan government.

Long since driven out of Uganda, the quasi-religious cult has carved out a vast region of control in the dense forests of northeast DRC, south Sudan and CAR. [Read more...]

Central African Republic calls on US to help crush LRA

The Central African Republic has called on the United States for military support to help “neutralise” LRA rebels terrorising the country, state radio said Monday.

Rebels of the Lord’s Resistance Army “have been on Central African territory since February 2008 when they were chased out of Uganda, and have been committing violations of all kinds and sowing terror among the population,” it quoted Foreign Minister Antoine Gambi as saying.

In May, US President Barack Obama promulgated a law to develop a comprehensive strategy to protect civilians from LRA attacks in the four countries in which they have been active, Uganda, DR Congo, south Sudan and the CAR. [Read more...]

Gerard Butler to don the role of “Machine Gun Preacher”

Hollywood action superstar Gerard Butler will soon be playing the role of real-life AK-47-toting Pastor Sam Childers in 2012’s “Machine Gun Preacher,” according to the Internet Movie Database. A former bike gang member and drug dealer, Childers underwent a massive spiritual transformation in 1992, during a revival at an Assembly of God church . Six years later he visited the Sudan where the Ugandan sectarian militant group known as the Lord’s Resistance Army, led by Joseph Koney, had abducted and tortured an estimated 30,000 children and displaced 1.6 million people since the start of the rebellion in 1986. For the past 12 years, the so-called “unconventional American pastor” has lived and operated in Southern Sudan and Northern Uganda. His Angels of East Africa children’s village has become a safe haven for rescued children. [Read more...]

Lord’s Resistance Army killed 321 people in Democratic Republic of Congo

Lord's Resistance Army At least 321 people were killed and hundreds were abducted in one of the worst massacres by Africa’s most feared rebel group, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), in the Democratic Republic of Congo in December.

The attack — which was unreported until now — confirms that the LRA has restarted terrorising the region despite losing its bases in Sudan a few years ago, when Khartoum, its main backer, signed a peace deal with south Sudanese rebels. [Read more...]