Jackline Apio, "I thought I would not survive"

A joint military operation by Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Southern Sudan to oust the Lord's Resistance Army from its hide-outs in DRC was launched in December.



During one raid, 21-year-old Jackline Apio, who had been in captivity for six years, was rescued. She told IRIN about her experiences:



"The first day of the attack I was in the camp. LRA leader Joseph Kony had told us a day earlier there were plans to bomb the camp and ordered all his commanders and other soldiers to leave immediately.



"At about 11am, after we had cooked, we heard the sound of approaching helicopters. Minutes later they [the helicopters] started bombing the camp. We all ran away.



"After two hours the rebels came back [to the camp] and collected food, medicine and weapons they had abandoned. The rebels, women and children later joined Kony. He was looking enraged, and we started walking towards [the] Central African [Republic].



"Kony later changed [his] plans and ordered everyone to split into groups of 10, including the women and children. He said we should all remain in [DR] Congo. I don’t know where he went but he remained somewhere with a few soldiers.



"Our group was led by Dominic Ongwen [Kony’s deputy]. We were 30 and were attacked several times by UPDF [Ugandan People’s Defence Forces] soldiers. On 22 January in the afternoon, our group was attacked by UPDF; we had walked the whole night and were resting.



"I was shot in my left thigh. Then the [UPDF] commander appeared and ordered [the] soldiers not to shoot children or women.



"The other rebels ran away. We were five, two babies, two young children and I. I thought I would not survive; everyone was screaming and children crying. I said my last prayer because Kony [had] told us that anyone caught by the UPDF would be killed.



"The soldiers took us to Dungu [north-east DRC] the following day. Now, I am back home.



"It is difficult in [DR] Congo. The rebels are on the rampage killing people. The [military] attack disrupted the rebels' plans to return to northern Uganda.



"It is difficult to get Kony, he keeps changing his location. Not even his commanders know his real location because he does not use satellite phones."



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