Wednesday, August 17, 2005

25 LRA rebels killed - Kony to be indicted for war crimes

A report by Reuters today says war crimes indictments for Kony and five of his top officers are expected to be issued soon by the International Criminal Court. Excerpt:
Ugandan troops backed by helicopter gunships killed at least 25 rebels in separate clashes on both sides of the border with southern Sudan, the Ugandan army said on Wednesday.

The military attacked Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) fighters in northern Uganda's Kitgum district on Monday, army spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Shaban Bantariza said, and again on Wednesday in Sudan's lawless Imatong Mountains.

"This afternoon in southern Sudan's Kit Valley we caught up with an LRA group and killed between 15 and 20 of those thugs," he said. "We are still identifying the bodies."

Bantariza said a group led by LRA deputy commander Vincent Otti was spotted on Monday trying to carry food to LRA leader Joseph Kony in Uganda's Kitgum district.

"We ambushed them, beat them up and killed 10," he said.

Kitgum is 450 km (280 miles) north of the capital Kampala.

He said it was too early to confirm a report that Monday's dead included an LRA self-styled "high priest", Abonga Pappa.

For 19 years the cult-like LRA has terrorised remote communities on both sides of the border, uprooting 1.6 million people in northern Uganda alone and triggering what aid workers call one of the world's worst humanitarian disasters.

The LRA, which is founded on religious symbolism, traditional rites and fear, has never given a clear account of its aims beyond opposing Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni.

It is notorious for targeting civilians, mutilating survivors and kidnapping thousands of children who are forced to serve the group as fighters, porters and sex slaves.

Under a 2002 deal with Khartoum, Uganda's military can attack the rebels in southern Sudan, where the LRA's elusive Kony is believed to sometimes hide.

Landmark talks to end the war stalled earlier this year, and war crimes indictments for Kony and five of his top officers are expected to be issued soon by the International Criminal Court.

Security sources in northern Uganda say fewer LRA abductions in recent weeks suggest the rebels are under increasing pressure from the army.
UPDATE: More news from Michael at Uganda-CAN on a possible third rebel commander to be killed in the past few months.

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