Ugandan army to verify rebel massacre reports in DR Congo: spokesperson

09:58, March 29, 2010      

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The Ugandan army said Sunday that it has sent teams in the northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) to verify reports that the Ugandan rebel group, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), killed at least 321 civilians in late 2009.

"In our view, that is an exaggerated figure; we are, however, asking our forces, because they were not there, to do verification," Ugandan army spokesman Felix Kulayigye told Xinhua by telephone.

Human Rights Watch said Sunday in a report titled "Trail of Death: LRA Atrocities in Northeastern Congo" that the LRA had killed at least 321 civilians and abducted 250 others, including at least 80 children, during a previously unreported four-day rampage in the Makombo area of Haute Uele district in DR Congo.

The report said the killing spree occurred on Dec.14-17 last year.

Kulayigye said that it was illogical for a massacre of such a magnitude to have occurred in the sparsely populated area.

"Logically that is not possible, unless these people were living in a camp and the LRA found them in one place," he said."It is very difficult for a force under 100 to collect over 500 people in one place."

The report also revealed other atrocities by the LRA in DR Congo in 2009 and early 2010, saying that the rebel group remains a serious threat to civilians and is not a spent force, as the Ugandan and Congolese governments claimed.

It said a regional strategy was needed to end the rebel group's atrocities and apprehend its leaders, some of whom are wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in northern Uganda for almost two decades.

The LRA has waged one of the longest guerrilla wars in Africa since 1986, roaming between Uganda, Sudan, DR Congo and the Central African Republic. Its guerrilla-style warfare has left tens of thousands dead and 2 million homeless over years.

The three neighboring countries launched an anti-LRA operation last December, declaring they had wiped out 80 percent of the rebel group at the end of the crackdown in March.

Although the joint military action dismantled the LRA's main base in the Garamba national park, its remnants killed more than 900 civilians in retaliation afterwards, sparking an outcry from human rights activists.

Source: Xinhua

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