Ugandan rebels grab

BBC, Sep. 16, 2002
By Will Ross

The rebels of the Lords Resistance Army, carried out a series of attacks over the weekend, kidnapping 41 people.

The Ugandan army carried out operations against the rebels and were able to release 34 people, some of whom had been held for three or four years.

As a result of an LRA attack on a convoy carrying World Food Programme assistance to displaced people, the agency has suspended operations in northern Uganda.

The rebels also reportedly killed two men for taking part in the national census, which started on Friday.

The rebel attacks are the latest in a series of attacks, which have continued despite the LRA’s own declaration of a ceasefire on 24 August.

The government, which is in communication with the rebels through a group of religious leaders, has told the LRA that a ceasefire will be respected if they cease attacks and gather at designated assembly points.

But separate rebel attacks took place in northern Uganda between Friday and Monday.

Priests released
On Friday morning, a group of LRA rebels attacked the Pader district offices killing at least three people, according to local reports. The dead were a local council official, the intelligence officer for the sub county, and a primary school teacher.

Several people were abducted. But army spokesman Major Shaban Bantariza said that no such attack took place.

On Saturday, rebels abducted two priests and dozens of civilians from Opiti mission.

The priests were released but 35 civilians are still missing.

On the same day the rebels targeted a WFP truck, despite the fact that it was travelling in a military convoy. The driver was killed.

At 0200 on Monday, a group of rebels attacked the country’s largest camp for internally displaced people at Pabo, north of Gulu.

They abducted six people after looting the camp’s shops.

There are nearly half a million Ugandans living in such camps and they all receive food assistance from the WFP.

This assistance was put in jeopardy over the weekend by the LRA’s attack on a convoy carrying 300 tonnes of food on the road from Lira to Kitgum.

Food aid suspended
As a result of recent insecurity on the road, eight WFP trucks were on Saturday escorted by army trucks carrying 60 soldiers and accompanied by two armoured vehicles.

They were attacked by an unknown number of LRA rebels, who positioned beside the road and in the trees.

As a result of the attack, the World Food Programme has suspended its food convoys between Lira and Kitgum for the next week.

Ken Noah Davies, the WFP country director, expressed concern that if the situation continues it will prevent the WFP from providing the urgently required assistance.

Reports from Lira District say that rebels have issued a letter calling on the population not to cooperate in the national census, which began on Friday.

In Okwang 60 kilometres north-east of Lira, two men were reportedly killed for taking part in the census.

People in the area are concerned because the officials carrying out the census mark the wall of each house they have visited, making it easy for the rebels to know who has taken part.

But over the past three days 34 civilians have been rescued by the military, according to army spokesman Major Shaban Bantariza.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Monday September 16, 2002.
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