The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), headed by infamous warlord Joseph Kony, has carried out a string of attacks in the Central African Republic, said Human Rights Watch Monday.
The LRA has gained more coverage in recent months after the U.S.-based activist group Invisible Children launched the “Kony 2012” video, which went viral on the Internet. Kony’s LRA is accused of using child soldiers, extrajudicial killings, torture, and mutilations in Uganda, the Central African Republic, and nearby areas.
Human Rights Watch researcher Ida Sawyer said that at least two civilians were killed and 14 others were kidnapped outside of Bakouma, an area in the Central African Republic, between June 21 and 25.
“The government should urgently increase protection for civilians in the Bakouma area and review the charges against the hunting reserve employees,” said Sawyer, who added that the LRA was likely responsible for the killings of 13 civilians in the same area in March. Sawyer said that 13 workers with the Swedish-owned Central African Wildlife Adventures had been arrested for the killings.
Just over a week ago, the United Nations endorsed an African Union force to capture Kony and finally dismantle the LRA. In the plan, a new force of 5,000 African Union soldiers would be sent out to take on Kony.
The militant group carried out the worst atrocities of it 25-yearlong history in the early 1990s in northern Uganda. By the last decade, it had mostly been driven out of the area, with only a few hundred members remaining in the area.
Citing witnesses, Human Rights Watch said that between June 21 and 25 more than 30 LRA fighters attacked the base of a French company, Areva, which is mining for uranium in the area. The fighters also attacked villages in Lengo, Ouanda, and Denguiro. In Lengo, they killed a fisherman and then brutally murdered an elderly carpenter.
“The contingent of government soldiers defending the Areva base quickly retreated and later reported they had run out of ammunition,” the New York-based rights group said.
One of the witnesses, a man who had been buying meat near Ouanda, told the rights group that he and at least 10 others were abducted before he escaped.
“There were 34 LRA in the group, men as well as women and children. Two children in the group, a girl and a boy, spoke Sango [Central African Republic’s national language]. They told us that we were with the LRA. We were beaten a lot, especially if we didn’t walk fast enough,” the man was quoted as saying.
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