Uganda Says At Least 30 Rebels Killed
KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) _ Army troops killed at least 30 rebels in northern Uganda, days after a three-week cease-fire expired, an army spokesman said Monday.
Soldiers used helicopter gunships to attack rebels from the Lord’s Resistance Army, or LRA, in the Pader and Gulu districts on Saturday, Lt. Paddy Ankunda told The Associated Press from Gulu, the main town in northern Uganda.
``Our forces are still cross-checking to ascertain the exact number of rebels killed, but it’s true we punished them. There were intense aerial attacks,″ Ankunda said.
The rebels, who rarely talk to journalists, could not be reached for comment.
The LRA forces are leftovers from a northern rebellion that began after President Yoweri Museveni, a southerner, seized power of this East African nation in 1986. The rebels are led by Joseph Kony, who claims to have spiritual powers, and have abducted thousands of children in northern Uganda to use as fighters or sex slaves.
``I have reason to think there might have been children killed or women killed in the recent aerial bombardment,″ said the Rev. Carlos Rodriguez of the Roman Catholic Comboni Missionaries, who is part of a group of religious leaders mediating between the government and the LRA. He spoke by phone from Gulu.
Ankunda denied the allegation.
On March 10, Museveni announced a cease-fire covering five areas in the northern districts of Kitgum and Pader in a bid to open talks with the rebels.
The government wanted the rebels to gather in the designated areas for negotiations, but the insurgents did not show up.
On March 29, the LRA wrote to mediators saying they would only agree to talks if Museveni called a cease-fire for all of northern Uganda, which he refused to do.
The cease-fire _ which Museveni extended three times _ ended March 31. Museveni has deployed thousands of troops in northern Uganda to crush the rebellion.