One of Kony’s top ten commanders, Lt. Colonel Binani was killed in combat this past Friday by Ugandan forces (UPDF) approximately 280 km north of Djemah, Central African Republic.
Binani (sometimes spelled Binany) is known for being a brutal commander who oversaw the deadly Makombo Massacre in late 2009; 321 people were killed and more than 250 abducted over the course of four days.
Vincent Binansio “Binani” Okumu was a young commander with a reputation for being loyal to Kony and willing to carry out brutal attacks on civilians and used violent means to control his subordinates. Like several other relatively young commanders such as Okot Odek, Otto Ladere, Ochan Nono Labongo, and Otim Ferry, Binani’s loyalty to Kony stems from his early service as one of Kony’s personal bodyguards. Estimated to be in his late twenties, Binani was the commander of all Congo-based LRA groups and directly oversaw operations in Garamba National Park.
In 2008 Kony gave Binani command of Central Brigade, a prestigious post responsible for Kony’s security. LRA escapees testified that he had significant responsibility for planning and executing the Makombo Massacres, a series of brutal attacks on civilians in northeastern Congo in which 321 civilians were killed and more than 250 abducted. In late 2011, the majority of LRA commanders in Congo were called to a ‘conference’ with Kony in CAR. During that time Binani remained in Congo, presumably tasked by Kony with safeguarding food and weapons caches throughout the park and maintaining a foothold for the LRA in Congo.
In late 2012, Binani was likely the commanding officer of about 50-60 fighters operating mostly in Congo’s Haut Uele district. He operated in and around the Garamba National Park complex, with his forces often attacking towns such as Faradje and Gangala Na Bodio. He reportedly moves with a small group of about 20 fighters but oversees two satellite groups led by Lt. Col. Okot ‘Odek’ and Major Obol ‘the one-eyed.’ Binani was also in charge of a group of 20 fighters under Brigadier Ochan Bunia. This group, which also includes Major Ochan Nono Labongo, has frequently moved between CAR and Congo.
UPDATE: Check out our more thorough analysis of what these developments means for the Lord’s Resistance Army, communities in central Africa, and Invisible Children.