There’s more information available
about the January 2nd LRA rebel attack on the Garamba National Park,
located in Nagero, in the eastern DRC. That attack left at least eight dead and
thirteen wounded and caused heavy damage to the park headquarters.
JoseKalpers, country coordinator
for the DRC for the African Parks Network, spoke from Brussels to VOA English
to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about the attack by Ugandan rebels.
“Our headquarters…was attacked by a
group of LRA rebels. The attack started at 5 pm (local time) and lasted…about
two hours. And it seems that the rebels launched several attacks at different
spots. The headquarters is spread over a large area and so several places basically
were targeted by the rebels almost at the same time…. Our rangers, assisted by
some Congolese army soldiers, started engaging fire. It was very sudden and
very violent and a number of people were killed during the attack, including
two rangers and two wives of wardens and a couple of other people working for
the park…. There was also extensive damage done to the infrastructures. A few
buildings were basically torched,” he says.
why the LRA might target the park along with villages in the area, Kalpers
says, “Since the military offensive that started on the 14th of
December and launched by the three armies of Uganda, South Sudan and Congo, the
LRA…dispersed over a large area. And you probably have heard about the
atrocities that were committed…around Christmastime…and then…at the end of the
year… I suspect those people are looking for food, looking for money and
looking for people.”
says they had suspected there would be an attack on Garamba National Park and
rangers were in position at various spots in anticipation. That’s because on
December 30th, there had been a “small-scale” attack by Ugandan rebels,
possibly probing the park’s defenses.
LRA attacks on eastern Congolese villages last week reportedly left as many as
500 people dead and displaced as many as 50,000. Also, the UN refugee agency
said Tuesday that there are reports of another LRA attack on the village of Napopo,
leaving eight people dead, houses destroyed and an unknown number of people
Congolese troops have arrived in the park, and Kalpers says the main priority
is taking care of the rangers, their families and the wounded and those who
were displaced by the attack. Humanitarian agencies have been notified that
several thousand people living near the park may have fled when the attack
occurred and may need emergency assistance.
There is concern that with the rangers
occupied with defending the park against the LRA, there might be increased
poaching in the park. However, Kalpers says they hope to resume patrols soon.