Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels killed more than 400 people in Christmas massacres in northern Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo), charity Caritas said yesterday.
The targets included a town where a Christmas Day concert was being held and a Roman Catholic church, the group said in a statement.
Caritas workers say that “over 400 people have been killed in the attacks in an area of northern Congo including Faradje, Duru, Gurba, Doruma and Province Orientale.”
“The director of Caritas Dungu-Doruma says that the Ugandan rebels attacked a Christmas Day concert in Faradje City organized by the Catholic church there,” the statement said.
“He says the rebels returned the next morning to continue their killing spree. He says approximately 150 people were killed over the two days,” it said.
“At the same time, another attack was perpetrated in Duru, north of Dungu. Caritas reports 75 people killed and the church burned down,” the statement said.
Troops from DR Congo, Uganda and southern Sudan have launched a military operation in the stricken region to find LRA leader Joseph Kony, who is wanted by a UN war crimes tribunal.
Caritas reported that killing continued along the Sudan border, including in Bangadi, Doruma and Gurba. In Bangadi 48 people died and in Gurba 213 people were killed. Approximately 6,500 people have found refuge in the area with the Catholic church, the charity said.
It added that children were being abducted by the LRA, who use them as child soldiers.
The statement said that the areas had been plundered, leaving local people in desperate need of aid. It said that the number of dead bodies risked spreading disease.
UN aid workers in Kinshasa said that LRA had killed 189 civilians in the region.
The Ugandan army said on Sunday that rebels had massacred 45 civilians in a church on Friday, most of them women, children and old people.