JULY 26, 2010: Four LRA abductees rescued by vigilantes in Sudan's W. Equatoria

Four LRA abductees rescued by vigilantes in Sudan's W. Equatoria
SOURCE: Sudan Tribune
By Richard Ruati
Four women have been rescued from the Ugandan rebel group the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) by a local vigilante group in Ukuo village in Yambio County.

The vigilante group known as the Arrow Boys also apprehended a senior 'wife' of rebel commander Dominic Ongwen, who was among the LRA leaders the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for in 2005.

Abe Agness, 28, who was abducted in 2000 in Gulu, gave birth to two children, a 5 year-old boy and a 9 month-old girl during her ten year abduction.

The other rescued women were:

Apeo Gladys, 27, who was abducted in 2005 in Gulu, who gave birth to a 2 year-old boy while in the bush.

Singbatire Puse, 17, a Congolese national who was abducted in 2009 in Bangadi, Oriental Province north eastern Congo.

Animamu Hozana, 15, was abducted in 2009 from Duru, which is also in Oriental Pronvince.

With the LRA's expanding attacks into Western Equatoria State over the past three months, vigilantes like the Arrow Boys have joined the armies of Uganda (UPDF) and South Sudan (SPLA) in attempting to pursue LRA fighters in the area.

The LRA are believed to have forced over 10,000 boys and girls from Ugandan, southern Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Central African Republic into combat.

Local chiefs have serious concerns about the impact of ongoing Ugandan-led military operations against the LRA on the safety of civilians in the region, and are pressing the semi-autonomous Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) to protect civilians and end LRA violence.

On 20 July SPLA Spokesman, Kuol Diem Kuol, warned of impending attacks by the LRA in Western Equatoria and Western Bahr El-Ghazal States. He said that the LRA had been regrouping in Central African Republic (CAR) following operations against it by the Ugandan Army.

On the same day, the LRA attacked a village west of Yambio in Nzara County, burning houses and killing a police officer and one Arrow Boy.

The police officer who was killed served as a bodyguard to the Caretaker Commissioner of Nzara County Col Sentina Ndefu. The rebels also attacked a local defence unit detachment at Basukangbii Payam.

Local chief, Sultan Tartizio told Sudan Tribune, "hundreds of villagers in Sangua Payam (15 km from Nzara) have emptied their houses on the run to Nzara in fear of losing their lives."

"If you can't protect yourself, you are finished."

Troops from Uganda Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Southern Sudan launched a joint military operation "Light Thunder" since December 14, 2008 to oust the Lord's Resistance Army from its hide-outs in DRC. But the operation has so far failed to capture LRA rebel leader Joseph Kony.

Kony has led the LRA in its guerrilla-style war against Ugandan government forces and the civilian population of northern Uganda since the late 1980s.

Operating from bases in southern Sudan, and supported until recently by Sudan, it has waged a campaign of terror - brutalizing, killing, and looting, destroying homes, and abducting people, particularly children, to act as fighters, sex slaves and porters for looted goods. However, it has become increasingly isolated in recent months with its leader speculated to be hiding in the jungles of north eastern of DRC. (ST)