Ugandan LRA rebels kill 189 Congo villagers
Ugandan Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels killed 189 people during three days of raids on villages in northeast Democratic Republic of Congo last week, a U.N. agency said on Monday, citing local officials.
U.N. humanitarian agency OCHA said the killings were reported to have been carried out between Thursday and Saturday in Faradje, Doruma and Gurba villages by LRA fighters fleeing a two-week-old multinational military offensive led by Uganda, Reuters reported.
"According to local officials, on December 25, the rebels killed 40 people in Faradje. On December 26 and 27, they attacked Doruma and the neighbouring village of Gurba, killing 89 people in Doruma and 60 people in Gurba," OCHA said in a statement.
At least 20 children and an unknown number of adults were abducted during the attacks, OCHA added.
Uganda, Congo and South Sudan launched a joint assault on LRA bases in Congo's isolated Garamba National Park on December 14 after the rebels' leader, Joseph Kony, again failed to sign a peace deal to end his rebellion against the Ugandan government.
Days after the offensive began, U.N. Security Council member states commended the three neighbours' decision to take on the LRA, whose two-decade bush war has killed thousands of people in northern Uganda and displaced about two million more.
Congo's Foreign Minister Alexis Thambe Mwamba told reporters in Paris last week that he expected to be "totally rid" of the rebels within days.
However, despite early bombing raids on rebel bases and initial claims of success, the offensive has so far failed to locate Kony, a self-styled mystic whose rebels have a reputation for kidnapping women and children and forcing children to fight.
An LRA spokesman last week said that Kony and his top commanders had survived the bombings and were calling for peace talks to be relaunched with a new mediator.
Kony and two of his deputies have been indicted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague for war crimes.