Any attack on Ugandan rebels based in eastern Congo will be an invitation for the group to resume its war in northern Uganda, the fugitive Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) said on Wednesday.
The LRA, whose leaders are wanted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court in The Hague, terrorised the north for 20 years. But they are now based in northeastern Congo and their representatives are in peace talks with the government.
On Tuesday, Uganda began closing camps for the 1.7 million people uprooted by the conflict. But an agreement this week between Uganda and Congo to stamp out militias plaguing eastern Congo, including the LRA, has infuriated the rebels.
"Any attack on our military positions ... shall be strictly treated as a declaration of war, resumption of war and above all an invitation to bring war back to Uganda," LRA spokesman Godfrey Ayoo told a news conference in Nairobi.
As mentioned numerous times on this blog, the LRA is notorious for fueling its army by abducting children and forcing them to be soldiers, laborers and sex slaves. More than 30,000 have been kidnapped since the war’s beginning in 1987, and more than 1.7 million people have been forced into displacement camps, where food and water are scarce and disease is plentiful But even the camps aren't safe. To escape abduction, children would "commute" several miles to the nearest town each night to sleep. According to World Vision, the number of night commuters was more than 25,000 in 2002, but the count has dropped from 15,000 in May 2006 to less than 500 in March 2007. "The decrease," says World Vision, "is attributed to the improved security situation related to the ongoing peace talks. Although there are signs of improved security, without a final peace agreement, northern Uganda's people will never be guaranteed a life free of brutal conflict."