KAMPALA, Feb 2 (Reuters) – Uganda called on Thursday for more action to catch rebels who killed eight Guatemalan peacekeepers last week in the jungles of neighbouring Congo.
Fighters from Uganda’s notorious Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebel group entered Congo’s remote Garamba Park last year, and on Jan. 23 they fought off a U.N. force of Guatemalan commandos trying to kill or capture the LRA’s deputy leader, Vincent Otti.
It was the second deadliest attack in the history of the U.N. mission MONUC, the world body’s biggest peacekeeping force. But Uganda’s Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa said he hoped it would not spell the end of attempts to crush the LRA in Congo.
“It is our hope to see more (attempts to catch Otti),” Kutesa told a news conference in Uganda’s capital Kampala.
“We have support from everyone in the Security Council in calling on the DRC (Congo) government, Sudan, MONUC and (the U.N. force in Sudan) UNAMIS to do everything possible to make sure the negative forces of the LRA are disarmed and apprehended.”
The LRA is notorious for targeting civilians and abducting children, and in October the International Criminal Court in The Hague unsealed arrest warrants for its top leaders.
They include Otti in Congo and Joseph Kony, the LRA’s self-professed prophet leader, who is believed to be in volatile southern Sudan where his cult-like group has long had bases.
Kutesa said he was in talks with Khartoum to extend a deal that lets Ugandan troops hunt the LRA in southern Sudan, but which expired on January 19. “They seem agreeable,” he said.
Some 1.6 million people live in camps in northern Uganda because of two decades of LRA insurgency, and on Thursday Kutesa said the government was forming a new team of donor nations and aid agencies to improve their living conditions.
He said Britain, the United States, Norway, the Netherlands and Denmark would all be involved, “together with some representation from credible non-governmental organisations”.