Monday, January 05, 2009

LRA's Kony is in the fringes of Garamba, North of Maridi but in the Sudan territory

According to some of the latest news reports posted today at Congo Watch:
Currently, LRA commanders Okot Odhiambo and Bok Abudema are heading to CAR; Okeny Opwa is in Maridi, South Sudan. Kony is shuttling between these places. Killing LRA’s notorious commanders could leave Kony bare. It is already reported that Odhiambo and Abudema are in a critical condition, both suffering from gout and probably injured during the December 14 air raids.

Kony is in the fringes of Garamba, North of Maridi but in the Sudan territory.

On Friday morning, LRA fighters attacked an SPLA truck at Tori and a commercial truck in Yei, Sudan. In the overnight raid, dozens of the fighters attacked the headquarters of the Garamba National Park in Magero town, a few kilometres from the Sudan border. Local authorities said the rebels had retreated to the north of the Garamba jungles on the Sudan border. Twenty people were killed local officials said today (Monday January 05, 2009).

U.N., Congolese and Ugandan officials have said the rebels, estimated to number between 800 and 1,000, have splintered into smaller groups. Only some are believed to be headed for CAR. LRA forces have been seen in the Ango region on the border with CAR. There was no sign the rebels had crossed into CAR.

During three days of raids beginning on December 25, fleeing LRA fighters attacked several Congolese towns, slaughtering civilians and looted and burned hundreds of homes.

The deputy governor of Orientale province, where the attacks happened, told Reuters on Saturday that the bodies of 271 victims had so far been buried, but the death toll was rising.

"The number is going up every day," Joseph Bangakya said. "Most were killed with machetes. (The LRA) are trying to save their ammunition."

Catholic humanitarian charity Caritas said it believed more than 400 people had died in the attacks.

Uganda has sent more troops to the area to prevent more LRA raids. Congo's 17,000-strong U.N. peacekeeping mission, MONUC, has said it is assisting the deployment of additional Congolese forces but is not participating directly in the joint offensive.

The UN has expressed support for the assault on the LRA. “We cannot condemn this military action because we can see the merit of it,” the UN envoy to northern Uganda, Joaquim Chissano, said last month.

“The aim of the attacks now is to force Kony out because he should not be given opportunity to entertain other options than are open to him through the peace process. The negotiations are over... what is remaining is the signing of the final peace agreement.”

Under the current agreement, if Kony signed, the government of Uganda would go to the Security Council or the International Criminal Court and request for the suspension of the arrest warrants. Then Kony could move freely into Uganda where justice would be applied according to what is foreseen in the agreement. In May, a special war crimes court was established in Uganda to deal with cases of human rights violations committed during the two-decade insurgency.

Note, Operation Lightning Thunder did not begin on time as instructed. President Museveni ordered attack for 7:30 am, but was it carried out at 11:30 am. And ground troops were also not deployed in time to start the cordon-and search operation. This, they said gave the rebels ample time to carry the dead and move out of the danger zone.

Ugandan rebels blame the Christmas massacres on the joint force currently in eastern Congo.
Map showing Maridi, Southern Sudan

Maridi, Southern Sudan

Credit: www.joshuaproject.net
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Ri-Kwangba

Sorry, unable to find a good map.

Ri-Kwangba is a site in West Equatoria, Sudan, near the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It, along with Owiny Ki-Bul, is one of two assembly points for the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) under the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement agreed to by the LRA and government of Uganda on 26 August 2006.

In September 2006, the only structures at the location, which was essentially a 200-by-300 meter clearing in the jungle, were five huts.

June 2007 peace talks held in Ri-Kwangba resulted in an improvement of facilities, in order to handle the gathering of delegates. (Source: Wikipedia)

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