Tuesday, 28 September 2010

South Sudanese vigilante group to be armed against LRA

Self-defence groups within Southern Sudan, namely the Arrow Boys vigilantes, are being supplied with guns to fend off increasing attacks from the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels. According to Western Equatoria state governor, Joseph Bakasoro, the government will spend around $2 million arming the Arrow Boys.

The UN has estimated that LRA has forced around 25,000 Sudanese from their homes this year alone, and believes that the group now also has a strong presence in Central African Republic (CAR) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), as well as Sudan.

"The home guard units will be trained and armed so that they can provide effective defence until the regular forces can intervene," said Bakasoro.

It is feared that LRA's attacks in Southern Sudan might increase ahead of January's referendum on the region's independence. Some Southerners believe that Northern political powers opposed to the region's independence are supplying the LRA with arms.

LRA's leader Joseph Kony began his rebellion 20 years ago, aiming to estabilish a Bible based theocracy in Uganda, but has since expanded the group's operations to Sudan, CAR and the DRC. Kony was to sign a peace deal in 2008, negotiated by Southern Sudan, but refused to disarm at the last minute. He is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC), and now lives an itinerant life between Sudan and the CAR.

Source: BBC News

For more news and expert analysis about the Sahara region, please see Sahara Focus.

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