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Ugandan Commander Shelled Civilians

May 24, 2000

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) _ A Ugandan army commander in charge during recent clashes with Rwandan troops in Congo was quoted Wednesday as saying he had ordered the shelling of civilian areas of Kisangani, including the radio station.

At least 28 civilians died and 159 were wounded on May 5, when Ugandan army forces opened fire on the city center in an attempt to evict Rwandan army units, according to U.N. military observers stationed in the Congo River port.

``To me, the radio station was part of the enemy,″ Uganda’s government-owned New Vision newspaper quoted Col. Sula Semakula as saying.

The two armies, erstwhile allies in an 18 month war against President Laurent Kabila, have clashed repeatedly in Kisangani. This week, they agreed to withdraw from the city starting Thursday. The United Nations would eventually take charge.

``My soldiers were under orders to target the positions of the enemy. I hit Simi-Simi airport, the enemy headquarters,″ Semakula said.

Asked whether his units had also killed more than 100 disabled Rwandan soldiers during the shelling of a medical center, Semakula replied: ``You know when someone decides to become an enemy, I think you have to deal with him in all ways.″

Semaluka, also known by the nom de guerre Suicide, accused the Rwandan Patriotic Army of provoking the fighting by firing at a Ugandan army position.

``At around 4 a.m. I ordered them to be hit. We shelled Simi-Simi airport from Kapalata. I fired 107-mm (mortars). RPA then fired on us with BM-21 rocket. I ordered the firing of 100-mm anti-aircraft rocket,″ he said.

Aid workers in Kisangani said the city, already in bad shape with crumbling roads and decaying buildings, suffered substantially during the shelling.

Both armies are in Congo is support of the rebels, who signed a peace accord with Kabila in August. Under the agreement, all foreign troops would withdraw from Congo.

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