Accessibility links

Breaking News

Ugandan Army Plans Major Offsensive Against Rebel LRA - 2004-02-05

Uganda's military says it is preparing to launch a major offensive at the end of this month to capture the leader of the rebel Lord's Resistance Army. The Ugandan army believes it has located the rebel leader's hideout in southern Sudan.

Ugandan military officials say two of the most senior Lord's Resistance Army commanders have recently been spotted, hiding in a camp in southern Sudan.

A spokesman for the Ugandan army in Kampala, Major Shaban Bantariza, says the military believes the two commanders are at the camp to protect the rebel leader, Joseph Kony.

"Kony went to Sudan with a few groups and their leaders. We now want to find them there, and see if we can destroy them like we have destroyed 52 of his senior commanders in the past seven months in Uganda."

Major Bantariza is referring to the successes the Ugandan military says it has made against the rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army, known as the L-R-A, in their strongholds in the northern part of the country.

The military says it launched several offensives last year in the districts of Teso and Lango, killing 900 rebels, including 52 top L-R-A commanders. Army troops have also rescued more than seven-thousand boys and girls, abducted by the rebels to be used as child soldiers and sex slaves.

Major Bantariza says the government offensives may have pressured Joseph Kony and his followers to retreat into southern Sudan, where the rebels have bases.

Ugandan troops searched for the L-R-A leader in southern Sudan two years ago, following the signing of an agreement with Sudan's government.

But Mr. Kony escaped, and sneaked back into Uganda where he began spreading his operations from the north to the west of the country.

Listed by the U-S State Department as a terrorist group, the Lord's Resistance Army has been waging a campaign of violence in Uganda for nearly 18 years.

The group has never detailed its demands. But it is estimated that its brutal activities, including murder and kidnapping, have displaced more than a million people and crippled the economy of northern Uganda.

The new International Criminal Court announced last week it is starting an investigation into charges of human rights violations by Mr. Kony. The announcement was made at a news conference in London, attended by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.