Ugandan rebels based in southern Sudan have reportedly killed more than 470 civilians over the last few weeks. The government of Sudan has vowed to capture the rebels and bring them to justice.
According to officials in the Catholic diocese of Torit in southern Sudan, Ugandan rebels from the Lord's Resistance Army have killed hundreds of villagers living in the Imatong mountains in the southern part of the country. In addition to the killings, church officials say the rebels also set six villages on fire.
In an interview Monday with VOA, Sujar Udin Hamid, a senior official at the Sudanese embassy in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, said his government plans to step up efforts to capture the rebels and their leader, Joseph Kony.
"Action must be taken, I believe, for this person to be brought to justice, Joseph Kony. Because now he's a criminal. He cannot just kill people like that," he said. "Activities should be intensified to catch him and bring him to justice.
Until recently, to punish Uganda for allowing Sudanese rebels to operate from bases in Uganda, Sudan was a major backer of the Lord's Resistance Army, which has for years been carrying out attacks in northern Uganda from bases in southern Sudan.
In March, however, Sudan gave Ugandan troops permission to enter its territory to destroy the LRA. Sudan has, until now, vowed to stay neutral. But with Sudanese civilians reportedly coming under attack from the rebels, the government in Khartoum is being forced to take measures to protect them.
Mr. Hamid says Sudan has advised local people via radio to move away from rebel areas and into territory controlled by Ugandan or Sudanese forces.
"A directive was issued to the civilians in the areas of combat from Radio Juba directing them to go to certain areas under the control of Sudanese army and or the UDPF to avoid being targeted by Joseph Kony. That was a broadcast issued a few days ago," he said.
Many of the LRA fighters are Ugandan children who were abducted from their homes and forced to fight for the rebels.
LRA leader Joseph Kony claims to be fighting to overthrow the Ugandan government and replace it with one based on the biblical Ten Commandments.