Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army rebels have crossed into Central
African Republic after fleeing a multi-national offensive against their
hideouts in northern Congo Kinshasa. An Uganda analyst for the
Washington-based Enough Project predicts the group, known as the LRA,
will continue killing and spreading terror unless the organization's
top leaders are captured.
According to reports from the
Central African Republic capital Bangui, LRA fighters ambushed an army
patrol last Friday close to the country's border with Sudan and
The army says one of its officers was killed
and another soldier was wounded in the attack. Central African Republic
soldiers fired back, killing an unknown number of rebels and chasing
the rest back into Sudan.
The government dispatched extra troops
to the remote region last month to protect against an LRA incursion
that had been widely expected since mid-December when Congolese, South
Sudanese and Ugandan forces launched an offensive on the LRA.
group's leader, Joseph Kony, his commanders and several-hundred foot
soldiers escaped from their bases in northeast Congo, slaughtering
hundreds of people in nearby villages. They are now believed to be
scattered across 40,000 square kilometers and looking for the next safe
An Uganda analyst for the Washington-based Enough
Project, Julia Spiegel, says Kony, who was indicted with four others by
the International Criminal Court in 2005, formed the Lord's Resistance
Army primarily as a rebellion against the perceived marginalization of
the northern Acholi people in Uganda.
But Spiegel says the LRA
has long been a movement with no defined ideals or goals other than to
spread terror. Although the December military assault has been sharply
criticized for unleashing an LRA bloodletting spree, Spiegel says she
believes the regional armies made the right decision to go after the
"There was a need to do something aimed at
apprehending those key LRA leaders indicted by the International
Criminal Courts. They are the mastermind behind their operation. They
are the ones who use fear and terror to keep all of these other
fighters behind them. Now, what we ended up seeing was a poorly planned
and poorly executed operation," she said.
Spiegel says better
intelligence gathering, coordination and rapid response capability are
needed to capture Kony and his lieutenants. She says only their
capture will enable the foot soldiers to lay down their weapons.
have got young men and women, who were abducted when they were nine, 10,
11 years old," she said. "They were forced to do terrible things to
their families and communities and all they have known ever since is
living in the bush for basic survival and killing. So, as far as
getting out of there, it is really daunting because they are
terrified. If you cut the head off the snake, it will be much easier
to bring back all the other lower rank-and-file fighters and
reintegrate them into society. Not that that is not a very difficult
process. But we are talking about a couple of hundred. It is nothing
like on the scale of Liberia and elsewhere, where you had hundreds of
It is not known how many children have been abducted by the LRA since 1987. Estimates range from 20,000 to as high as 60,000.