There was significant LRA activity in and around Obo, CAR between January 26th-30th.
This is the first LRA activity in Obo in at least fourteen months. Invisible Children’s CAR headquarters is in Obo, and therefore IC staff was able to quickly follow up with the victims and returned abductees shortly after the events that took place the night of January 29th. Below is a timeline constructed from information gathered from IC staff through interviews with victims and civilians in Obo:
Date: January 26th, 2014, around 5 pm
Incident Details: Two boys were hunting just outside Obo the evening of January 26th when a group of LRA, reportedly composed of fifty men, women and children, abducted the boys. They were taken to a LRA camp where the boys were interrogated about the Ugandan and US military presence in Obo where both the UPDF (the Ugandan military) and US Special Forces have bases. The LRA used three other abductees from the same tribe as the boys, the Zande, as translators during the interrogation.
Over the next several days the group looted the nearby community of Gomoro and abducted at least four other people (further details below).
Date: January 28th, 2014, around 4 or 5 pm
Incident Details: Late afternoon on January 28th, two men were fishing at the Boko River, a three hours walk from Obo, when they were ambushed by three LRA, two of whom were armed with AK-47s and dressed in military uniforms; the third was unarmed and wearing tattered clothes. During the attack one of the fishermen fell from his canoe and managed to escape. He was able to return to Obo at 6pm the next day (just before the main attack on the town). The other fisherman, who is approximately thirty years old, was abducted and has not yet returned.
Date: January 29th, 2014, around 5 pm
Incident Details: At approximately 5pm on January 29th, two boys set out on motorcycles from Obo to look for the two missing fishermen. When the boys got stuck at a water crossing just 3km outside of Obo, five armed LRA appeared wearing a mix of military and civilian clothing. While the combatants were tying up one of the boys the other managed to run away. He reported that as he ran away he looked behind him and saw that many more LRA had appeared.
The escaped boy went back the next day to find that his motorcycle was still there, but the battery had been looted.
Date: January 29th, 2014, around 6 pm
Incident Details: The night of January 29th, three days after the first LRA encounter in the Obo vicinity, a group of an estimated eighteen armed LRA forces surrounded a part of town in the east part of Obo. They broke into two houses and looted food and other items. Most of the assailants were wearing tattered military uniforms, with the exception of about four who were wearing new military uniforms and well armed, standing on the peripheral watching over the attack. The assailants were reportedly all men, except for one girl of about 13 years. The children who had been abducted over the several days prior, were forced to move the looted items into the surrounding bush.
The LRA force continued their attack, moving towards the center of town. They fired guns in the air creating panic in the community, and looted seven households. A twenty-eight year old man was wounded by three bullets after trying to defend himself.
Some of the items reportedly looted from the community include: About 3 million CFA francs, 15 basins of peanuts, clothes, 2 containers of 20 liters of palm oil, solar panels, at least 4 FM radios, 2 mobile phones and boots.
Note: The first two households looted belonged to the treasurer for the Women’s Association of Obo and therefore had a relatively significant amount of money. This suggests that the LRA likely had information about the population and knew to specifically target the treasurer’s household.
Date: January 30th, 2014, sometime in the morning
Incident Details: The morning after the attack on Obo town, January 30th, two boys and one young man were released by the LRA group that attacked the night before. One boy had been in captivity for four days, the other was in held captive for just one. One of the boys reported that he was hit thirteen times for having shown disobedience during the previous night’s attack and was then threatened that he would be killed if he did not obey. The LRA group leader told the boys and young man that they would come back to Obo again and that the civilians should not shoot at them or carry machetes.
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The LRA group responsible for the attacks in Obo may still be in the surrounding area in which case IC’s defection team will work to do an immediate flier drop targeting the group. Stay tuned.