By Richard Ruati
September 6, 2010 (Yambio) - The Ugandan rebels Lord’s Resistance Army(LRA) has killed eight people in raids over the weekend in South Sudan’s state of Western Equatoria, a local official has said.
The LRA, which is a sectarian religious and military group from northern Uganda, has a history of committing atrocities in the region.
It began as an Acholi tribe rebel movement seeking to overthrow the Ugandan Government. What it stands for now is a matter of debate but in 2005 the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued its first five arrest warrants for LRA leader, Joseph Kony, his deputy and three of his commanders.
Around six LRA fighters attacked the market village of Rii-Bodo at about 2:00 am (local time) on Saturday, 4 August, and killed civilians, said Lexon Amozai who is the state director of the Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Commission in Western Equatoria State. The murders took place after an LRA ambush at the nearby Nahua stream.
On Friday, the rebels launched a similar assault on the village of Gangura. "They killed eight people there, among them two women. There were no soldiers deployed there, so they attacked the civilians," Amozai said.
A Uganda-led coalition including Congo and South Sudan launched a joint offensive against the LRA strongholds in Congo’s isolated Garamba National Park on December 14, after LRA leader Kony again failed to sign a peace deal. However, the operation has failed to arrest Kony.
On Sunday, August 5, related attacks were carried out in James Diko, Naakiri Bomas and during the funeral of one of the LRA victims in Bangasu.
Bangasi Joseph Bakosoro, Governor of Western Equatoria State (WES), expressed his deep regret for the deaths of local citizens in Rii-Bodo.
In a press statement, Bangasi said that, “it is painful to see the barbaric killings of the innocent citizens of Western Equatoria by the notorious LRA fighters, especially as the referendum is around the corner.”
He called upon the youth of WES to show strength in order to assist the Ugandan People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) in their endeavors to maintain security in the state against the marauding LRA.
Bakosoro assured citizens that, “more UPDF forces will be deployed around the most attacked areas of the Bomas [the smallest of local government units].”
He called upon the forestry department to ensure that “all timber cutters are removed from the forests of the state because it makes no sense for the LRA to be killing people and leaving them (timber companies) unharmed. Hence is our suspicion that some them might be LRA spies.”
Meanwhile the Minister of Local Government and Law Enforcement Agencies, Wilson Sidigi, said that he will ensure that support is given to maintaining the villagers’ security.
Sidigi promised that he would work with the County Commissioners of Yambio and Nzara to encourage the youth to stand firm, as the security of the State is in the hands of all its citizens.
Security sources say that the state government’s deployment of "forces around the payams [villages] and Bomas,” is imminent.