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Thousands in Congo flee Joseph Kony's rebel army

In Gulu, the site of a 2004 massacre and warlord Joseph Kony's hometown, people are still terrorized that he might return. NBC's Rohit Kachroo reports.

Thousands of villagers have abandoned their homes in the Democratic Republic of Congo to escape the notorious Lord's Resistance Army, the Guardian newspaper reported Tuesday.

The villagers left everything and walked some 30 miles in the dead of night after an attack by Joseph Kony’s ruthless rebel army last month, the paper reported on its website.

The displaced people remain fearful of returning home and remain in Dungu, a provincial hub in the northern part of the DRC, which now faces a growing humanitarian crisis.

The LRA, and its leader, gained worldwide exposure recently because of the “Kony 2012” video release by a U.S. group known as Invisible Children. The video has been viewed on the YouTube social video site nearly 87 million times.

LRA fighters have committed massacres, mutilations and mass rapes and kidnapped children and forced them into slavery, the Guardian reported.

A Guardian reporter visited Dungu, where cell phone reception is spotty and access to the Internet is limited, and found little evidence anyone there has heard of the video. However, the reporter did find people fearful of the LRA.

“People have been terrorized, seriously traumatized, by repeated attacks by the LRA and the violence and mutilation they have suffered,” Jorge Holly, head of the United Nations’ refugee agency in the region, told the Guardian.

Invisible Children has come under scrutiny for the “Kony 2012” video, with many calling it an oversimplification of the complex LRA conflict in Uganda. The group said it planned to release a a sequel video on Tuesday detailing the use of children soldiers in the LRA in Uganda.

The group has been trying to recovery after co-founder and filmmaker Jason Russell suffered a brief reactive psychosis, NBCSanDiego.com reported. Russell was discovered by police on March 15 in various stages of undress and behaving in a bizarre manner.

Russell was detained and taken to a hospital. It could be months before he can return to Invisible Children, according to his wife Danica.

NBCSanDiego.com contributed to this report.

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