Home | News    Tuesday 30 March 2010

Ugandan rebels deny last year massacre in Congo

March 29, 2010 (NAIROBI) – The Ugandan rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) denied claims published in a report released over the weekend that its fighters killed last year hundreds of civilians in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.

Ina report put out on Sunday, human Rights Wash said the LRA rebels killed at least 321 villagers and abducted some 250 other in the Makombo area of northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in December 2009.

The report was backed by the United Nations.

"These claims of massacres coming almost four months late are yet another fabrication by NGOs, which are advocating war," Justine Labeja, LRA’s Nairobi-based spokesman, told Reuters.

"Yes, we are in Congo but we have no problem with the Congolese people or its government and we continue to call for a ceasefire to end this war," he further said.

The rebel official also slammed the United Nations saying they want to use their group to justify their return into Congo. "The U.N. are being kicked out of Congo against their will but they now want to use us as an excuse to stay there," he said.

The Ugandan rebels are accused of atrocities and kidnapping children to recruit them as soldiers as well as turning girls into sex slaves. After two decades of war in northern Uganda they crossed into the Democratic Republic of Congo where they carried out attacks.

Two weeks ago, Enough project said Joseph Kony the leader of the rebel group has reached the troubled South Darfur state.

In Kampala, the spokesperson of the Ugandan army Lieutenant Colonel Felix Kulayigye on Monday showed skepticism over the figure of 321 victims cited in the report.

He said that given the weakness of the LRA’s remaining fighting force, the Ugandan rebels could not have carried out such a large-scale attack and then escaped unharmed.

"In view of the population patterns (in that region) and the number of fighters they have, I doubt they have time to kill 300 people and abduct another 250," Kulayigye said.

"They are remaining only with 200 fighters and those are scattered around northern DRC and Central African Republic," he said

(ST)