Uganda: October 9, 2002


There are indicators that the Ugandan People's Defense Forces are preparing for another offensive against the Lord's Resistance Army. On 3 October, about 50 LRA rebels attacked the Maaji refugee settlement in the northern Adjumani District and burned 65 huts. At least five soldiers and eight rebels were killed in the attack, the second this year against the camp. A senior Ugandan Army officer had been arrested for having been drunk at the time of the attack.

On the same day, the army ordered all displaced people (IDPs) in northern Uganda to return to government-protected camps within 48 hours. This was for their own security and also to avoid being caught up in an anticipated military offensive. Most IDPs obeyed the army's orders and returned to the camps (or at least to areas surrounding the camps). This order only affected "a few" IDPs who had returned to their abandoned, isolated homesteads (which when pursued by the UPDF, the LRA use as hide-outs). The directive has been met with suspicion among some locals, who suspect an Army "scorched earth" policy is about to be executed. The Army denies this, of course. 

The Uganda Railways Corporation (URC) also began moving flatcars loaded with South African-made Mamba Mine Protected Vehicles and 'tank's (type unspecified) from the port of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. The Ugandan Army has had a serious shortage of these vehicles in the north and believes the success of their next offensive will depend on the number of troops they can move.

UPDF has had some recent success; between 26 September and 3 October, they killed 20 LRA rebels, rescued 38 abductees, registered six defectors, recovered nine boxes of medical drugs, two mines, two machine guns and 450 boxes of ammunition. - Adam Geibel


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