Army pursuing LRA rebels

IRIN, May 14, 2003

The Ugandan army on Tuesday said it was still pursuing members of the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) who abducted 44 young people from a Catholic seminary in northern Uganda at the weekend.

KAMPALA: LRA fighters on Sunday morning attacked the St. Mary Lacor Junior seminary in Gulu and abducted 44 out of the 136 students at the institution. One student was reportedly shot dead by the rebels.

Ugandan army spokesman Shaban Bantariza told IRIN that a military force had been dispatched immediately after the attack and had intercepted the rebel group, but the latter had scattered into smaller groups.

He said the operation was further complicated by heavy rains that have been pounding the region. “The rains are heavy and some rivers are full. But you know they [rebels] have their own little crossing points,” Bantariza said.

John Baptist Odama, who heads the Catholic diocese of Gulu, condemned the attack, but said the abduction of the seminarists should not be seen as an act against the church, but as part of the extreme state of insecurity in northern Uganda, the Italian-based Missionary Service News Agency (MISNA) reported.

Security in northern Uganda has continued to deteriorate in the recent weeks following the collapse of a ceasefire designed to pave the way for peace talks.

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