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LRA rebels drives refugees out of homes

2/26/2006 7:53am

February 26, 2006

By Andnetwork .com

Deadly raids by Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels have forced scores of villagers in southern Sudan to flee their homes to spend nights in the bush fearing abductions and killings, a German humanitarian group said on Friday

. The insurgents have been carrying out raids in vast southern Sudan belt called the "LRA Triangle" which lies between Rasola town near the Democratic Republic of Congo border, the region’s capital Juba and Lokukei town near the Ugandan border.

"The threat imposed by the LRA forces the local population to leave the village during the night to hide in the bush," said Klaus Stieglitz, the deputy director of Sign of Hope.

Last week, LRA fighters attacked villages around Rajef, 12 kilometres (7.5 miles) south of Juba and brutally hacked to death three people, including a 70-year-old man and looted cassava farmland, the group said.

"It is a shame that these people nearly feel like animals. They are in fact deprived of their human dignity," he said after touring villagers around Rejaf and Nimule outposts in southern Sudan, where the group delivered humanitarian support.

The group said LRA last week attacked villages around Rajef, 12 kilometres (7.5 miles) south of Juba and brutally hacked to death three people, including a 70-year-old man and looted cassava farmland.

In areas outlying Nimule, about 150 kilometres (94 miles) southeast of Juba, the insurgents have abducted at least 92 people, including children, and villagera believe that most of them are still held by the ruthless insurgents, they said.

"The villagers told us they can identify the attackers as the LRA because of the ethnic Acholi accent in their language," Stieglitz told a press conference in Nairobi.

"These LRA activities pose the most difficult hardship on people who are already struggling to rebuild their lives after suffering from war and displacement," he said, adding that the raids have disrupted the economic activities.

In Uganda, the LRA fighters have forced several thousands of children so-called "night commuters" in the country’s north to flee their home villages each night to relative safety of the streets in larger towns, notably Gulu.

The Ugandan army has been pursuing LRA rebels inside Sudan since 2002, when Khartoum, long accused of harbouring and arming the rebels, allowed Ugandan forces to conduct seek-and-destroy operations against them in southern Sudan areas.

But the army has failed to vanquish the insurgents, who took over the leadership of northern Uganda’s rebellion in 1988, two years into a conflict fuelled by perceived economic marginalisation of the region by Kampala.

The group distinguishes itself by its brutality and its total absence of a public political face, a characteristic making negotiating an end to the war all but impossible.

Source: Sudan Tribune

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