Uganda to exhume massacre victims for reburial

The Ugandan government plans to exhume the victims of the country’s worst massacre by rebels in years to give them a proper funeral and establish an exact death toll for the attack.

The exact number of people killed in the February 21 raid has provoked controversy in the east African country, with local officials saying more than 230 people perished compared to a government figure of 84 dead. The latest killings by Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels, who force hundreds of brainwashed children to fight for them, provoked outrage in northern Uganda at the government’s failure to protect civilians from attacks by the 17-year-old movement.

Officials say the bodies would be exhumed from hastily-dug graves at the site of the attack on the Barlonyo camp, one of many camps set up to house more than a million people uprooted by attacks by rebels in the north. “We are still organising the logistics but in the next few days we should exhume their bodies for reburial,” Mike Mukula, the minister of state for health, said.

The army says the burial will take place near the site of the Barlonyo camp, deserted by some 4 000 inhabitants when rebels attacked in the darkness, spraying gunfire and burning people alive as they hid in grass-thatched huts.

Led by Joseph Kony, the self-proclaimed mystic, the LRA has spread fear throughout northern Uganda, paralysing economic activity in the area and defying repeated attempts by the army to crush the revolt. The movement has never issued a clear statement of its demands, but says it is fighting for the rights of the northern Acholi people, who have long felt neglected by the government in the capital Kampala. Acholi also form the main victims of its attacks, which typically target civilians.

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Reuters, UK
Feb. 27, 2004

Religion News Blog posted this on Monday March 1, 2004.
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