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Client Came Under Fire from the Lord’s Resistance Army While Taking a Pitstop

4 Minute Read

A bullet sliced through the client’s windshield

A bullet sliced through the client’s windshield

Redpoint Resolutions rescued our Ripcord Rescue Travel InsuranceTM client after he was ambushed by armed guerrillas of the Lord’s Resistance Army in the remote reaches of the Central African Republic.

Scott (who asked that his last name not be used), and his guide raced away in their bullet-holed vehicle to the Redpoint Operations-designated bush rendezvous point as the LRA chased after them on foot, firing their automatic weapons.

“I was sure glad you guys got here as fast as you did,” said the Ripcord client, Scott, from his home.

The attack occurred in the southern part of the CAR, north of the village of Dembia, where Scott and his colleague Jacques stopped for a break. Unbeknownst to them, they had stumbled upon a camp patrolled by the LRA, a rebellious, religious cult controlled by notorious warlord Joseph Kony, active throughout Central and East Africa.

Members of the Lord’s Resistance Army. Photograph: AP

Members of the Lord’s Resistance Army. Photograph: AP

“The shots came from the bush, about 100 meters away,” Scott said. “I dove behind a small rock out in the open savanna, but I didn’t want to be left behind. So I decided to run back the way we had come in a zigzag pattern. I was taking heavy fire. The gunmen were out in the savanna now, still shooting.”
“I ran as fast as I could with bullets whizzing by me in all directions, and striking the ground near my feet and ahead of me. I could see the ricocheting bullets light up like little fire balls coming past me,” he said.

Meanwhile, Jacques was catching up to him in the vehicle, which was by now pocked with bullet holes. One of the rounds had torn through the passenger seat’s headrest.

One of the rounds ripped through the passenger side headrest

One of the rounds ripped through the passenger side headrest

Jacques caught up to Scott and flung open the passenger door, and Scott dove in.

“I jumped into the seat of the car while it was moving as we were still taking fire from nine LRA gunmen with automatic weapons.  The car was hit several times, and both rear tires were flat. But we just kept driving as fast as we could to put some distance behind us.

“We were threading the needle. It is a miracle that we were not hit by the dozens of shots.

“Anyway, Jacques and I continued driving back to the main road on two flat tires.  We had only one spare tire and didn’t want to risk stopping.  The gunmen, pursuing on foot, were not far behind. We eventually had to stop a couple times to sift water out of mud puddles to refill the radiator as the car was overheating.  We finally had no choice but to stop and change one of the rear tires.”

Gunfire shattered the Cruiser’s sideview mirror

Gunfire shattered the Cruiser’s sideview mirror

When they changed the tires, Scott had the time to text Redpoint’s Operations from a Delorme inReach satellite device. Redpoint set up a nearby rendezvous point to take him from Dembia to the nearest airstrip in Rafai.

“It’s a very good thing they had that device with them, considering their location,” said Redpoint Operations Director Al Bora. “The inReach facilitated quality two-way communication which helped us get him out of the danger zone as quickly as possible.”

As the Redpoint security detail was en route, Scott and Jacques felt confident continuing toward Rafai on their own.

“We made it to camp and gathered our belongings and most of the camp gear,” Scott continued. “We repaired the tires.  We loaded camp gear on both Cruisers and one bigger truck.  I drove one of the Cruisers. We arrived Rafai about 2 AM.  Along the way, the four wheel drive quit working and the fuel filter plugged in the Cruiser I was driving so we left it behind.

One of the attacker’s bullets tore through the cab of the Land Cruiser

One of the attacker’s bullets tore through the cab of the Land Cruiser

“Ripcord sent a ground team my way from Obo to Dembia but we were able to leave Dembia with the UN soldiers before Ripcord arrived.  The next day, Ripcord flew me from Rafai in a Beechcraft King Air 350 back to Bangui.”

After the client decompressed overnight in a hotel, Redpoint Operations drove Scott to the airport with an armed detail for his flight to France and then home to the U.S..

“It was awesome the way you guys came to get me so fast,” Scott recalled. “That was easily the best $450 I have ever spent.”

“I remember talking with one of the guides and he said that figure sounded more expensive than some of the other quotes we had seen. I explained that those other quotes did not include the security option. And this was precisely why I came to Ripcord – the other companies did not provide that security evacuation piece. Obviously now, looking back, I’m very happy I did that.”

CAR-ambush-3“I’m recommending Ripcord to all of my clients and my friends who are traveling to Africa.”

Ripcord Rescue Travel Insurance™ combines the best medevac and rescue insurance with travel insurance benefits such as trip cancellation, trip interruption, lost baggage, primary medical expense coverages, and more. Ripcord is powered by Redpoint Resolutions, a medical and travel risk security company owned and operated by special operations veterans and physicians.

Redpoint covers over 9 million people through commercial insurance policies, corporate employees and its Ripcord rescue travel insurance program.

Contributing members are responsible for the accuracy of content contributed to the Member News section of AdventureTravelNews.

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