Uganda: June 12, 2002

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Over the 9-10 June weekend, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni claimed that LRA leader Joseph Kony narrowly escaped capture by Ugandan forces in last week's battle at Imakori. Fire from a 12.7mm machinegun apparently covered the rebels' withdrawal. During that same fight, LT Patrick Ocira (Intelligence Officer for the 7th Battalion/ 409th brigade) ordered UPDF soldiers to cease-fire when he saw five-year-old Betty Acan wander into the open during the fight with Kony's 30 armed rebels. Acan had been taken by the rebels when her parents fled an earlier attack. The girl was flown to Gulu barracks in the UPDF helicopter gunship on the evening of the 7th, to be reunited with her family.

The UPDF has occupied five LRA camps in the Sudan and seized large quantities of arms, but there are rumblings that the 14,000 men of the UDPF's 4th Division is in the wrong place at the wrong time. Kony's group of LRA rebels was later intercepted on its way back to Uganda but a second group of 200 rebels, led by Vincent Otti, slipped through UPDF lines and out of the Sudan, with instructions to kill all Ugandans. They were believed to have entered an uninhabited, hilly and forested area of the Padibe and Palabek sub-counties, in Uganda's Kitgum district.

Reports from the town of Kitgum claimed that this group stormed a disco hall in Awer village, Padwat parish (Palabek sub-county) on the night of 6 June, killing an unidentified man and abducting an undisclosed number of civilians. They allegedly set fire on the disco hall and several houses in the village, then looted medicine and food from shops.

The Italian Catholic news agency MISNA reported that LRA rebels were operating as far south as Lokung (Kitgum district), 50 kilometers from the Sudanese frontier. There were also reports of LRA rebels in Pajimu and Dore. Symptoms of war weariness were evident among hundreds of rebels, who were originally kidnapped but are now attempting to desert and return home. One unnamed source claimed that they were now desperately trying to go home to their families, but fear that other rebels find them in their villages. - Adam Geibel


 

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