KAMPALA, July 21 (Xinhua) -- Uganda's notorious rebel group, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), is on resurgence in Central African Republic (CAR), abducting at least 344 people in the first six months of 2016, a Midyear Security brief report said late on Wednesday.
The Midyear 2016 Security Brief, issued by a group of two U.S non-governmental organizations monitoring activities of the rebel group shows that the LRA whose leader Joseph Kony is wanted by International Criminal Court for war crimes, abducted 344 Central Africans in the first six months of 2016, posing a resurgent threat to civilians.
In total, LRA abducted 498 civilians and killed 17 others during 122 attacks from January - June 2016, with nearly all attacks in eastern CAR and northern Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo), according a new LRA Crisis Tracker report released Wednesday by charity organizations, Invisible Children and Resolve.
For the first time, there were two exceptions attacks in Sudanese-controlled areas of the Kafia Kingi enclave; the first credibly reported LRA attacks on civilians there since the group established a presence in the area in 2010. Since then, the Kafia Kingi area has regularly served as a safe haven for Kony and other top LRA commanders.
Among the LRA abductees in eastern CAR were 65 children, 39 of whom remain in captivity or are otherwise unaccounted for. Many of the children were reportedly abducted on direct orders given by warlord Kony in late 2015.
"The international community must do more to protect civilians in eastern CAR from the LRA and other armed groups. Failure to keep civilians safe will only embolden spoilers to peace," said Sean Poole, Director of International Programs at Invisible Children.
In DR Congo, LRA attacks and abductions have been on the rise in recent months in northern part of the country. After abducting 44 civilians during 19 attacks in DR Congo from January - March 2016, LRA groups abducted 109 civilians during 37 attacks from April - June.
The increase was due in part to the presence of an LRA poaching group in DR Congo's Garamba National Park, said the report.
At least 38 long-term LRA dependents, women and children who have spent at least six months in LRA captivity - escaped the LRA in the first six months of 2016. They included 15 teenage boys, as well as 12 women and young children who were released near Bangadi, DR Congo.
"LRA defectors consistently report that morale is at an all-time low within the rebel group," said Paul Ronan, director of The Resolve LRA Crisis Initiative.
"Donors should invest heavily in efforts to encourage LRA members to defect, as well as programs to help communities rebuild and accept returnees," he said.
The increase in LRA violence comes as Uganda considers withdrawing troops deployed in eastern CAR from the African Union Regional Task Force beginning October, according LRA Crisis Tracker report.
The UN Security Council is also expected to renew the mandate of the UN peacekeeping operation in CAR (MINUSCA) this week. Enditem