DECEMBER 18, 2009: Ugandan Rebels Threaten Christmas Attack

Ugandan Rebels Threaten Christmas Attack in DR Congo

SOURCE: Agence France-Presse (AFP)

KINSHASA, Dec 18, 2009 (AFP) - A lawmaker from the northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo on Friday expressed fears of an attack by Ugandan rebels at Christmas, as in 2008 when more than 400 people were killed.

The rebels of the "LRA (Lord's Resistance Army) have recently sent messages to the people of Niangara saying that they plan to 'celebrate' Christmas with them. I'm very worried because their passing means killings, rapes, the burning of houses and the invasion of the fields," Jeanne Abakuka, provincial lawmaker from Niangara in Orientale province told AFP.

According to a report by the New York-based Human Rights Watch published in February 2009, more than 865 civilians were killed in the Niangara region and at least 160 children were kidnapped by the LRA in the Niangara between last December 24 and January 17.

At least 400 people were killed on Christmas Day and the following day, according to another non-governmental organisation, Caritas.

Abakuba said the rebels were currently about 30 kilometres (20 miles) from Niangara. On Tuesday they killed a fisherman, a former local leader and a policeman, she added. They "are everywhere in the bush. The population, in distress, has already begun to flee."

The UN mission in the DR.Congo "takes (LRA threats) seriously" and plans to step up its joint patrols with the Congolese army (FARDC) in the region, a MONUC spokesman told AFP. ..

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