Uganda: August 19, 2002


The Ugandan army (UPDF) continues to attempt to use conventional solutions against the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and was preparing a major offensive, with more soldiers flooding the region. On 15 August, they reestablished the 5th Infantry Division (to be based in Corner-Kilak) to supplement reserve forces battling Kony rebels in the north.

Reserve forces have been unable to contain the rebels and the UPDF decided to beef them up with the regulars. The UPDF also continued to reinforce the 4th Division, with several landmine sweepers and tanks arriving in Gulu on 13 August. Two days later, another three tanks and three truckloads of troops arrived. Zonal forces will also be established to deny the rebels free movement. 

Joesph Kony was reportedly moving towards Gulu after having been in Kitgum for two weeks prior, when 50 LRA rebels attacked a clinic near Kony's ancestral home at Odek on the 14th. At midnight, LRA rebels attacked Gulu's Primary School. However, the "move on Gulu" radio messages were a deception to cover the LRA's march to the border but the UDPF didn't fall for it. Instead, they set up ambushes 100 miles north of Gulu.

On the morning of 16 August, 13 LRA rebels were killed and one soldier was seriously injured in a two hour fight at Kitgum Matidi. Another rebel attack at Minakulu at 0300 on the 17th temporarily closed the road, but the rebels looted all the bars, got drunk and simply fled when the UPDF arrived at 0600. Others too drunk to run were carried away by the soldiers. Three senior LRA commanders, including Joseph Kony's second-in-command Vincent Otti, were also badly injured in 16 August nighttime battles with the UPDF.

This spurred the UPDF 4th Division headquarters at Gulu (where President Yoweri Museveni had made his base since 26 July) had not come under attack by LRA rebels. The president asked the public works department to immediately reopen all feeder and main roads, so that the army could pursue the rebels. - Adam Geibel


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