Following reports of Sudanese army casualties in clashes with the Ugandan rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), the authorities in Khartoum said on Monday that they planned to engage in military operations against LRA forces operating in southern Sudan, news agencies reported. The LRA, until recently, had been backed by the Sudanese government, in retaliation for Uganda’s moral and alleged practical support to the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army. Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Uthman Isma’il said in a statement that Sudanese government forces would challenge any LRA military operations in Sudanese territory. “Sudan will not tolerate any casualties in the ranks of the Sudanese army or among the civilian population,” he was quoted as saying.
The return on 25 August of three children who recently escaped from LRA bases in southern Sudan appeared to confirm that Sudanese forces have engaged the LRA in some parts of southern Sudan. On their return to safety in Gulu, northern Uganda, the escapees said they had managed to flee to Uganda during a battle on 19 June between Sudanese forces and LRA soldiers, in which five government soldiers were killed, ‘The New Vision’ newspaper reported. It quoted local sources as saying that the LRA was now conducting military operations against Sudan, and that recent escapees believed LRA leader Joseph Kony’s main enemy was now Sudan, rather than Uganda.
The LRA has been fighting a guerilla-style war against Ugandan government forces - and the people of northern Uganda - since the late 1980s, ostensibly in a desire to have Uganda ruled according to the Ten Commandments of the Bible. The militia frequently attacks the government’s “protected villages” for internally displaced people, looting goods and abducting people to carry them or serve as fighters.
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