NOVEMBER 4, 2009: Top LRA Commander Quits in Congo

Top LRA Commander Quits in Congo

SOURCE: New Vision

By Raymond Baguma

Kampala — A senior commander of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) has surrendered to the joint military forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to the Ugandan army.

UPDF spokesman Lt. Col. Felix Kulayigye said the LRA's director of operations 'Lt. Col.' Charles Arop had reported to UPDF intelligence operatives who are operating alongside the Congolese army in eastern Congo.

 "The LRA operations commander, Col. Arop, has reported to our forces in the DRC. He reported in a place called Djabir with one soldier he was left with. He is in our hands," Kulayigye said last evening.

Arop had fled to Faradje, south of Garamba National Park, with about 100 men when Operation Lightning Thunder started in December 2008. Most of his men have since been killed or surrendered, Kulayigye said.

Recent LRA returnees The New Vision talked to said that many rebel fighters are ready to surrender following the deteriorating living conditions in the LRA rebel camps in DRC.

The group, which surrendered recently, said they originated from two camps headed by Col. Arop and brigade commander Okello Kalalang, who was killed recently. Arop, like Kalalang, was a feared commander. He is accused of masterminding the killing of dozens of people in Faradje.

"On the way into Faradje, LRA combatants killed all whom they encountered, pretending at first approach to be friendly and then killing the victims with a blow to the head with an axe, machete, or a large stick," said Human Rights Watch in a report this year.

"They killed at least 25 residents of Aligi as they silently entered Faradje."

Arop reportedly led the subsequent attack on Faradje on Christmas Day in which 143 people were killed and 160 children abducted...

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