/ 29 January 2009

UN: More than 100 killed in massacre by Ugandan rebels

Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels killed more than 100 people in a village in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in an apparent reprisal for army operations against them, the United Nations said this week.

The massacre in Tora village in north-eastern Orientale province on January 16 brought the number of civilians killed by the rebels to 900 since the campaign started last month.

”At least 100 bodies were recovered by local self-defence forces. The attack was reportedly carried out by 13 rebels,” said Lieutenant Colonel Jean-Paul Dietrich, military spokesperson for the UN peacekeeping mission in DRC.

Dietrich said 40 rebels had been killed in the operations, launched by DRC, Uganda and Sudan after the LRA failed to sign peace accords to end one of Africa’s longest wars.

No LRA commanders — some of whom are wanted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court — have been captured. But the operations have brought a wave of reprisals by rebels.

DRC President Joseph Kabila won elections in 2006 saying he would pacify his vast, resource-rich country after a decade of war and chaos that killed more than five million people and sucked in six neighbouring armies.

Despite support from the UN mission, the government has struggled against several local and foreign rebel groups that continue to roam the east, exploiting mines and attacking civilians.

As a result, over the last month Kabila has allowed Uganda and Rwanda to send their armies into DRC to help hunt the LRA and Rwandan Hutu FDLR rebels. But the operations have been controversial and resulted in high civilian casualties.

The UN humanitarian agency, OCHA, said it had reports that 110 people had been killed in the January 16 attack on Tora and about 130 000 people have been displaced since September. — Reuters