Congo Watch: Terrorists used machetes, clubs and swords to massacre women and children in church near Doruma, DR Congo

Monday, December 29, 2008

Terrorists used machetes, clubs and swords to massacre women and children in church near Doruma, DR Congo

Rebels are suspected over the deaths of 45 civilians in a Catholic church the day after Christmas, the army said today. The report could not be independently confirmed. Uganda's military spokesman, Captain Chris Magezi, said it took place in remote eastern Congo, where the rebels have bases.

Source: The Scotsman 29 December 2008
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From 28 December 2008
The Uganda People’s Defense Forces has said the recent killing of civilians by Lords Resistance Army rebels fleeing a joint military offensive is regrettable and shows that the LRA were never committed to the peace process.

The UPDF Spokesman, Maj. Paddy Ankunda says LRA rebels have been using the peace talks to reorganize and continue their fighting which victimizes civilians.

He says the reported killing of more than 40 civilians in a village of eastern DRC by the LRA is an indication the rebels don’t mind about a good reputation given that the whole world has been waiting on them to sign the comprehensive peace agreement.

Maj. Ankunda says the LRA are killers whom the regional governments have decided to join forces and rout out.

He says the UPDF and its sister forces of DRC and Southern Sudan are in hot pursuit of the LRA in the Garamba forest and will defeat them.

In an interview today, Ankunda appealed to Ugandans to support the national army and government’s efforts to end the LRA through military means since the LRA have refused to end the conflict through peaceful means.

He says with the support of the DRC government, the UPDF is sure of defeating the LRA who are operating in eastern parts of the vast DRC.
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From Times Online December 29, 2008 by Jenny Booth:
The death toll in the Boxing Day machete massacre in a church in a remote part of eastern Congo may exceed 100, according to reports.

Captain Chris Magezi, a Ugandan military spokesman, said that survivors and witnesses had described seeing dozens of people, including women and children, being hacked to death, in an atrocity that he blamed on members of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), a Ugandan rebel group.

“The scene at the church was unbelievable. It was horrendous. On the floor were dead bodies of mostly women and children cut in pieces,” Captain Magezi said.

Witnesses had reported seeing rebels using machetes, clubs and swords, he said.

Captain Magezi put the death toll at 45 civilians, but a European aid worker said that more than 100 people were reported to have been killed in the attack and that the Congolese military put the number of dead at 120 to 150.

The accused Ugandan rebel group, which has waged one of Africa’s longest and most brutal wars, denied responsibility.

David Matsanga, a spokesman, said that the LRA had no fighters in the area and he accused the Ugandan Army of the cross-border killings.

But Abel Longi, a villager who witnessed the attack, said that he recognised the rebels by their dreadlocked hair, their Acholi language and the number of young boys among them.

“I hid in bush near the church and heard people wailing as they were being cut with machetes,” said Mr Longi, a shop owner from the village of Doruma where the attack happened.

The European aid worker, who refused to be named because his organisation fears reprisals, said that a woman who escaped from the church told them there were about 30 killed, but that Congolese military forces said that as many as 150 people had died.

The UN-run Radio Okapi, meanwhile, quoted the governor of Congo’s Oriental Province, Medard Autsai Senga, as saying that the death toll had surpassed 75 and bodies were still being discovered around the church.

He appealed for aid for survivors. The aid worker said that hundreds of people had fled south, deeper into Congo, while the majority of people from Doruma, a village of several thousand people, were taking refuge at Naparka, about 37 miles (60km) to the south.

The rebels appear to be retaliating against civilians for military attacks, including the bombing of their main camp in Garamba National Park on December 14.

The rebel spokesman, David Matsanga, who spoke by telephone from Nairobi, Kenya, blamed Uganda’s 105th Battalion. “They were airlifted to Congo to kill civilians and then say we are responsible,” he charged. “They want to justify their stay in DRC [Congo] and loot minerals from there like they did before.”

Congo suffered back-to-back civil wars from 1996 to 2002 that drew in neighbouring countries in what became a rush to plunder its massive mineral wealth.

The armies of Congo, Uganda and Sudan began an offensive this month to root out the Ugandan rebels, who have been fighting for about 20 years.

Long-running peace talks between the LRA and the Ugandan Government have stalled. Rebel leaders seek guarantees that they will not be arrested under international warrants. The rebels’ elusive leader, Joseph Kony, and other top members are wanted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague for war crimes and crimes against humanity.



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