One of Africa’s most brutal rebel groups, Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), said on Monday a report that its members killed hundreds of villagers in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) late last year was fabricated.
In a report, the United States-based Human Rights Watch said 321 people were massacred in a killing spree that took place in villages in DRC’s remote north-east in December. 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 spokesperson, told Reuters.
The LRA fought a two-decade insurgency in northern Uganda before crossing into DRC in 2005. A Ugandan-led multinational force attacked its jungle bases in late 2008, and the rebels splintered into groups.
Most of the fighters crossed into Sudan and the Central African Republic, where they have carried out waves of attacks, but experts think one group remains based in DRC.
“Yes, we are in DRC but we have no problem with the Congolese people or its government and we continue to call for a ceasefire to end this war,” said Labeja.
Colonel Michael Anywar, an LRA official in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, accused the UN of making the rebel group a scapegoat and an excuse to stay in the mineral-rich nation.
“The UN are being kicked out of DRC against their will but they now want to use us as an excuse to stay there,” he said.
The cult-like group, which is led by Joseph Kony and is accused of turning boys into child soldiers and girls into sex slaves, says it wants to rule Uganda according to the Bible’s Ten Commandments.
At the height of Kony’s war, thousands were killed and two million Ugandans were forced to seek safety in camps that dotted northern Uganda and southern Sudan for close to two decades. — Reuters