President Joseph Kabila’s government vowed on Wednesday to destroy the rebels of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), condemned by the UN for a series of atrocities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo).
“We have decided to destroy the LRA,” government spokesman Lambert Mende Omalanga said, a day after UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the LRA’s alleged role in massacres in DR Congo and southern Sudan.
“We have given the LRA the chance to negotiate peace with the authorities in its country, but in the end they refused to sign,” Omalanga said. “We cannot keep people on our territory who kill innocents.”
Omalanga was speaking after reports emerged of atrocities attributed to LRA fighters in eastern DR Congo.
The Catholic charity Caritas said the LRA had killed more than 400 people in Christmas massacres in the Haut-Uele district of northeastern DR Congo, which shares a border with Uganda.
Officers of the Ugandan army, which with Congolese and Sudanese soldiers have been hunting down LRA fighters in northeast DR Congo since Dec. 14, also accused the LRA of the massacre.
On Monday, the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said LRA fighters had killed at least 189 civilians in the region.
Richard Domba, the archbishop of Dungu-Doroma in northeast Orientale Province, denounced what he said was the “indescribable savagery and barbarousness” of the rebels.
The rebels have denied any responsibility for the killings, blaming the three-nation military force that is hunting them down.
Uganda and the LRA have been engaged in peace talks led by the government of south Sudan for more than two years.
But the protracted discussions fell through in November after LRA leader Joseph Kony repeatedly failed to sign a peace deal agreed with Uganda in July 2006, citing fears that he would be arrested on war crimes charges.
Kony is wanted by the International Criminal Court over the killings carried out by the LRA during its 20-year war against the Ugandan government.