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Officials: LRA Threat 'Gravely Reduced'


Officials say Ugandan rebels who have terrorized central Africa are getting weaker in the face of a regional military offensive.

A spokesman for the joint military effort, Captain Deo Akiki, says the Lord's Resistance Army's capacity to kill and abduct people has been, in his words, gravely reduced.

The French news agency, AFP, quotes a Congolese government spokesman, Lambert Mede, as saying soldiers have trapped what he calls the rebel group's "hard core" in a swampy forest in Congo's Garamba national park.

There has been no independent confirmation of that report.

Ugandan, Congolese and southern Sudanese forces launched the offensive against LRA fighters in mid-December. The LRA has since launched attacks on numerous villages across northeastern Congo and southern Sudan, killing hundreds of people.

Mende says Congolese President Joseph Kabila and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni will meet sometime by the end of this month to evaluate the situation.

The LRA has been fighting Uganda's government for 20 years. In recent years, the group has evolved into a regional threat, carrying out killings and kidnappings in Congo, southern Sudan and the Central African Republic.

The group has negotiated a peace deal with the Ugandan government, but LRA chief Joseph Kony has failed to show up multiple times to sign the deal. The group has said it wants the International Criminal Court to drop war crimes charges against rebel leaders before it will sign the accord.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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