New Vision (Uganda), Jyl 2, 2003
By Nathan Etengu in Soroti
She grabbed her sick baby strapped on her back and tossed it in a swamp in Katakwi without butting an eyelid.
The woman rebel of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) showed the savagery of the rebel group classified as terrorists by the US after September 11. The Acholi-speaking woman was among captives the rebels took when they struck Kapelebyong county recently.
A teacher, Thomas Aquainus Oreta, who escaped from LRA captivity, said the macabre incident occurred on June 23. He said the unidentified woman picked the two-year old child from her back and threw it into Alaso swamp near Abarilela sub-county. He said he learnt that the sick child had not responded to treatment.
Oreta said the rebels were moving with a consignment of drugs looted from health units. He said one captive was in charge of carrying the drugs.
“Most of us who were captives lost hope after witnessing the incident. I wondered whether I would survive in the hands of the rebels if they could do such a thing to their own children,” Oreta said.
He said their group had just reached the middle of the swamp when the woman dumped the child there.
“I heard her mutter some words in her local language before she picked the kid from her back and threw it into the water,” Oreta said.
Oreta, who spent seven days in captivity, said the rebels fed on stolen goats, chicken, turkeys and ducks.
He said the captives would take as many as two days without food and any available food went to the top rebels first.
“The rest of us survived on raw cassava up-rooted from people’s gardens,” Oreta said.
He said he escaped early in the morning pretending he was going for a long call.
“They tried to chase me but I hid in the bush until the group left. I then walked aimlessly from Angopet in Morungatuny until I reached some homes at Ogolai on Amuria road,” Oreta said.
He said more than 100 captives, mostly boys, were still in captivity.
Oreta, 23, said the captives were divided into groups of seven and placed under the strict surveillance of three armed rebels.
“We were forced to carry heavy loads and walk very fast. Whoever failed to walk very fast would be beaten seriously,” Oreta said.
He said the rebels also forced the captives to wear tattered army uniforms while others were ordered to wear clothes hard for the army helicopter gunships to detect.