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Army rescues 100 LRA captives as hostilities intensify

[Uganda] UPDF searching for LRA in northern Uganda.
UPDF troops searching for LRA fighters in northern Uganda. (IRIN)

The Ugandan army rescued more than 100 people kidnapped by the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) during the month of March, and also killed 50 insurgents, an army spokesman told IRIN on Thursday.

"We rescued 110, mainly children, but also adults who had been abducted by the rebels from the [northern Ugandan] areas of Gulu, Apac, Adjumani, Kitgum and Pader," Lt Kiconco Tabaro, an army spokesman based in northern Uganda, said.

"We also managed to kill 50 rebels, and two of our soldiers were injured, while a number of ammunition and arms were recovered," he said. "The arms included 39 rifles, one rocket propeller gun, anti-personnel mines and other ammunitions."

Tabaro said several civilians were killed during the month, but the army had not determined the exact number.

He further stated that the LRA had mutilated several women, hacking off their breasts, lips and ears.

A shortage of food in the bush, Tabaro said, had prompted rebels to attack civilians in search of supplies - although they had also been motivated by publicity.

Northern Uganda has been the backdrop to a protracted war between the government and the LRA, a notoriously brutal group that claims to be fighting to replace the government of President Yoweri Museveni with one based on the Bible's Ten Commandments.

The region recently experienced a two-month lull in hostilities when negotiations between the government and the rebels began in late 2004. However, talks stalled at the beginning of March, and the LRA resumed its attacks on civilians.

A UN official, who requested anonymity, spoke to IRIN in Gulu on Thursday and described the peace process as "a wait-and-see situation".

However, Ugandan media recently reported that the chief mediator in the peace talks, Betty Bigombe, made contact with LRA leader Joseph Kony on Tuesday, over the possibility of resuming negotiations.

The 19-year-old war between the government and the LRA has all but devastated northern Uganda, killing tens of thousands and displacing 1.5 million people.

In 2004, the UN estimated that more than 20,000 children had been abducted by the LRA during the conflict.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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