Uganda has begun withdrawing its soldiers from the Democratic Republic of Congo, after a three-month hunt for members of the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).

The first troops arrived at Uganda's Entebbe airport late Sunday.  Uganda's deputy chief of defense forces, Lieutenant-General Ivan Koreta, said the rest of the 3,000 troops should be out within eight days.

Koreta also said Congo has agreed to continue hunting for LRA fighters, and that the two countries will share intelligence.

Ugandan officials say the operation in northeast Congo was a success, with about 150 rebels killed and more than 200 kidnapping victims released.

However, a LRA spokesman, David Matsanga, tells VOA the mission simply damaged the peace process between the rebels and the Ugandan government.

The Ugandan military began the operation in mid-December with political and military support from the DRC and southern Sudan.

The pullout was agreed to in a recent meeting between Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and DRC President Joseph Kabila.

The LRA has been fighting the Ugandan government for more than 20 years.  The group has also become a regional threat, extending its killing, kidnapping, and maiming of civilians to eastern Congo, southern Sudan, and the Central African Republic.

Uganda and the LRA negotiated a peace deal after a cease-fire in 2006.  However, LRA chief Joseph Kony has failed to show up on multiple occasions to sign the accord.

The International Criminal Court is seeking the arrest of Kony and other LRA leaders on war crimes charges.  The rebels say they want those charges dropped before signing the peace deal.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters