NOVEMBER 26, 2009: 'Kony Was Aware of Garamba Attack, Days Before'

'Kony Was Aware of Garamba Attack, Days Before'

SOURCE: Monitor

By Risdel Kasasira

Kampala — Lord's Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony survived the aerial-UPDF 'surprise' attack, code named Operation Lightning Thunder, on his camp in Garamba, in December 2008 because he had intelligence information on the assault two days before.

This was revealed yesterday by the LRA's Director of Operations, Lt. Col. Charles Arop who surrendered to the UPDF in October.

Information leakage on the attack that led to Kony's escape, probably explains why critics have branded the Garamba-attack, jointly conducted by the armies of Uganda, Congo and South Sudan, a failure.

Former LRA rebel Lt. Col Charles Alop speaking to journalists at Mbuya UPDF Barracks. Photo by Joseph Kiggundu

Lt. Col. Arop told journalists in Mbuya Military Barracks that Kony addressed his fighters and told them to prepare for the UPDF attack.

"On the first day of attack, nobody was killed because he [Kony] knew about the attack and he told us to prepare us, two days before," he said.

The December 14 aerial strike on Kony's Swahili Camp dispersed LRA fighters, forcing Lt. Col. Arop and 71 fighters to seek refuge in Faradge, where he operated and killed civilians during the 2008 Christmas season.

Killed Civilians

"We attacked and killed people because he was angry and said, the attack against us, was planned by Congolese, Sudanese and Ugandans," he said. Lt. Col. Arop who also once worked as Kony's chief body guard, said his former boss has ulcers. "He always complained of ulcers. Otherwise, he is strong," he said.

He estimates the strength of LRA to be 250 fighters; half the number they had before Operation Lightning Thunder. Lt. Col. Arop, who was abducted from Gulu at the age of 17, in 1994, said he is ready to be deployed and fight his former boss. The Defence/army spokesperson, Lt. Col Felix Kulayigye said the government was ready to offer the former rebel amnesty.