Breaking news: Coordinated LRA attacks in Congo reportedly leave dozens killed, abducted
We recently learned of two attacks allegedly perpetrated by the LRA in the Democratic Republic of Congo (Congo). Both attacks occurred last Thursday, February 24, in communities less than 25 miles apart. These attacks, if confirmed, are representative of an increase in violence perpetrated by the LRA in January and February.
Reports from the first attack, on the small village of Bamngana in Bas Uele district, included unconfirmed information that 30 people were abducted, two civilians were killed, and six soldiers from the Congolese army were killed. Additionally, the reports indicated that the attacking rebels were very well-armed and announced that Joseph Kony was in the Congo and the LRA would attack the nearby village of Naparka next.
Multiple sources have reported that the LRA rebels did attack Naparka the next day, allegedly killing 10 Congolese soldiers along with three civilians. A local boy was left with a note from the LRA encouraging the Congolese army to stop following the LRA into the bush.
We learned of these attacks through civil society sources on the ground in Congo. The Naparka attack was also mentioned in a report from Radio Okapi, a radio news site sponsored by MONUSCO, the United Nation’s peacekeeping mission in Congo. And, just today, we read a press release from the United Nations High Commission on Refugees that mentions the increase in attacks.
While reports of violence by the LRA are always disturbing, these attacks come in a series of increased strikes by the rebel group. As the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported at the end of January, there has been a spike of LRA actions throughout Congo since the beginning of the year (full report in French).
Unfortunately, reports of LRA attacks in Congo are often not investigated by the UN or human rights groups for months, so we may not have a full picture of what happened during these incidents for some time. However, highlighting preliminary reports like the ones that we’ve received is crucial to ensuring that LRA activity does completely escape the international radar.
Also – check out this photo essay that appeared in Newsweek, with photos from Marcus Bleasdale and text by Joe Bavier. The hauntingly beautiful photos highlight the stories of those affected by the LRA throughout Congo and the Central African Republic.