AFRICA/CONGO DR - “We are fearing a bloody Christmas, like that of 2008.

Niangara (Agenzia Fides) - “We fear another massacre like that of Christmas 2008. We live in total insecurity,” Fides was told by Bishop Julien Andavo Mbia, Bishop of Isiro-Niangara in the north-eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where rebels of the Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) are threatening to repeat the Christmas massacre of 2008, which claimed the lives of at least 800 civilians (see Fides 9/1/2009 and 14/1/2009) “Two days ago the LRA rebels attacked the village of Tapili (about 50 km from Niangara), killing several people and forcing the flight of over 2,000 inhabitants, who are now in Niangara, without any assistance.” The population of the area said they saw LRA leaflets threatening a repeat of massacres similar to those of 2008. "We’ll be celebrating Christmas with you,” the leaflet reads. “If the international community and local authorities do not intervene in time, there is a real risk of another bloody Christmas,” concluded the Bishop of Isiro-Niangara. In recent weeks, the LRA rebels have attacked several locations in northeastern Congo, an area close to the border with southern Sudan. Ugandan rebels have, for years, been active in a vast area comprising the northeastern part of the DRC, southern Sudan, and the eastern part of Central African Republic. After the failed offensive of December 2008 conducted by the armies of Congo, Uganda, and South Sudan against the LRA headquarters in the Congolese forest of Garamba, the rebels split into smaller groups to carry out reprisal attacks on civilians. LRA leader Joseph Kony, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court, is taking refuge in Central Africa, where Ugandan commandos are hunting him down, with the consent of local authorities. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 18/12/2009)

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