Monday, September 20, 2004

Ugandan Helicopter Gunships, Ground Troops Kill 25 Insurgents in Neighboring Sudan

KAMPALA, Uganda Sept. 19, 2004 — Ugandan helicopter gunships and ground troops attacked a rebel hideout in southern Sudan, killing at least 25 insurgents and capturing seven others, an army spokesman said Sunday.

The Ugandan army suffered no casualties in the attack late Saturday on Lord's Resistance Army rebels hiding in a forested valley, 90 miles north of the Ugandan border, Lt. Paddy Ankunda said.

Ugandan rebel leaders, who rarely speak to journalists, could not be reached for comment.

"It was a fierce battle. We basically used aerial power to bomb their positions," Ankunda said by telephone from Gulu, 225 miles north of the Ugandan capital, Kampala. "The ground forces then closed in to check the area to see how many rebels had been killed."

The shadowy Lord's Resistance Army, fighting an 18-year rebellion, claims to be trying to overthrow Uganda President Yoweri Museveni, but the force mostly attacks civilians to steal food and abduct children for use as fighters, laborers or sex slaves.

Sudan backed the Ugandan rebels until December 1999, when the two countries signed an agreement that allowed the Ugandan army to flush out the insurgents in southern Sudan.

Ugandan troops entered southern Sudan in March 2000 to expel the rebels in "Operation Iron Fist."

[Courtesy Associated Press http://abcnews.go.com/wire/World/ap20040919_1542.html]

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