3 armies raid rebel camp in eastern Congo
NAIROBI, Kenya (CNN) — Three African armies launched a raid on a rebel camp in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the three armies announced on Monday.
Congo’s national army joined Ugandan forces and southern Sudanese militia in a military operation Sunday meant to root out pockets of the Lord’s Resistance Army — which had been preparing to launch an assault on Uganda from camps in eastern Congo, a joint statement from the three said.
The operation comes amid stalled peace negotiations intended to disarm LRA leader Joseph Kony and end a rebellion that began in Uganda over two decades ago when President Yoweri Museveni came to power.
Targeting rebel hideouts in Garamba, the triumvirate force said it was trying to rescue hostages and hunt down LRA leaders, accused of fomenting recent attacks against civilians in the region, including DRC, southern Sudan, and Central African Republic.
The Lord’s Resistance Army — led by Kony, who claims spiritual powers — sought to overthrow its government, demanding the constitution be replaced with a version of the Ten Commandments.
The Ugandan government and the rebels agreed to a cessation of hostilities in August 2006, but there have been outbursts of fighting since.
The LRA, which the U.S. State Department describes as “vicious and cult-like,” has been known for its unpredictable behavior.
Local villagers and international human rights groups have accused the rebels of committing widespread abuses, including recruiting young boys and girls as soldiers and sex slaves.
In October 2005, the International Criminal Court unsealed arrest warrants for five LRA commanders, including Kony, who is alleged to have “ordered LRA forces to begin a campaign of attacks against civilians in Uganda” in 2002, according to the court.
The 33 counts against Kony included 21 counts of war crimes.
Charges also included sexual enslavement, rape, inducing rape, directing attacks against civilians and forced enlisting of children to fight, according to a news release from the court.