Afrian Eye News Service, May 19, 2003
The trainees, aged between 12 and 18, were abducted from their dormitories at St Mary’s Seminary in Gulu, 400km north of Kampala, on the night of May 11.
Ugandan soldiers rescued five of the young men near the border with Sudan last Thursday.
The five were hospitalised and treated for swollen feet, fever and trauma. One had a bullet wound.
They said four other trainees were hacked to death with machetes when they were unable to walk after being tortured. Altogether, 32 trainees are still missing.
Army spokesperson Major Shabaan Bantariza said the military was in hot pursuit of the rebels.
The LRA, led by a shadowy religous leader called Kony, who claims to be a spirit medium with supernatural powers, was formed 16 years ago and aims to overthrow the Ugandan government and rule the country according to the Bible’s Ten Commandments.
Kony’s political ideology is vague but is based on a religious cult that believes bullets fired by Ugandan soldiers are harmless as long as cult members sprinkle themselves with water blessed by Kony himself.
Three students who escaped after the abduction and returned to the seminary said the rebels had told them that they were being taken to Sudan for military training.
In the last 16 years, the LRA has abducted thousands of children and forced them to fight alongside the rebels.
Boys are used as child soldiers and the girls as sex slaves of the militia commanders. Unicef estimates 10 000 children have been abducted by the rebels and taken to their bases in southern Sudan.
It’s believed that the seminary’s attackers were part of a group of 700 LRA fighters who have fled Sudan following a suspected outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus.