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DR Congo confirms pullout of Ugandan troops after joint anti-LRA operation
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16:55, March 16, 2009

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The Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) confirmed on Sunday that Ugandan troops began to pull out after achieving "a clear success" in the two countries' joint operation against a notorious rebel group.

The troops of the Ugandan army (UDPF) began to withdraw from the Congolese territory in the day, said a communique released by DR Congo's armed forces (FARDC).

The pullout took place "on March 15 and terminates on March 23,2009, at the latest" under a plan "adopted out of common accord," the communique added.

In Kampala, UPDF told Xinhua that the first batch of about 400 Ugandan soldiers arrived at Entebbe airport on Sunday evening, after months of joint operation against the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in DR Congo's northeastern province of Orientale.

Officials of both countries had previously declared satisfaction with this cooperation, which also involves southern Sudan.

The three neighboring countries launched the operation on Dec. 14 and have since wiped out 80 percent of the LRA. The Ugandan military announced on Tuesday that a senior rebel commander was killed in a southern Sudan area after the recent capture of Thomas Kwoyello, who allegedly ranks fourth in the LRA.

The three-nation crackdown, however, has not yet netted LRA leader Joseph Kony, who went into hiding early this year in border forests between DR Congo and southern Sudan.

The LRA, which is known for atrocities of mutilation and child abduction, has waged one of the longest guerrilla wars in Africa since 1986, roaming between Uganda, Sudan, DR Congo and Central African Republic.

The rebel group has killed more than 900 civilians in retaliation for the launch of the three-nation operation. Its guerrilla warfare has left tens of thousands dead and 2 million homeless over years.

The International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, has issued arrest warrants for the top five leaders of the LRA on charges of war crimes and anti-human crimes.

Uganda began to pull back troops after a summit meeting between the two countries.

Congolese President Joseph Kabila met his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni early in the month in a border town of DR Congo's eastern province of North Kivu, where both leaders decided to effectively exchange their ambassadors as a token of normalcy in ties which broke in the 1990s.

A cooperation protocol was signed after the talks, under which Uganda will provide power supply to border towns of DR Congo, including Beni, Butembo and Lubero. The two leaders also agreed to cooperate in exploiting oil in the Lake Albert region, which spans the two countries' common border.

Source: Xinhua

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