Uganda: Helicopters In The Mist

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August 30, 2012: Joseph Kony, supreme LRA (Lord's Resistance Army) commander, continues to frustrate years of international efforts to arrest him. Uganda, however, is keeping the pressure on by conducting long-range patrols, most of them in the southeastern Chinko River-area of the Central African Republic (CAR). The rumor mill still says that is where Kony is hiding. The area is sparsely inhabited and covered with thick jungle. The army carried out a successful raid in the CAR on August 24, and almost nabbed one of Kony’s deputy commanders, who apparently moved into Sudan’s Darfur region. The Darfur reports are sketchy but then all of the Kony sightings are sketchy. Ugandan authorities also maintain that Kony is getting support from Sudan. Sudan denies the allegation. The UN issued a statement last month which argued that the LRA’s command and control capabilities have been degraded. One reason was the surrender in May of Ceasar Acellam, who had the rank of major general in the LRA and was one of Kony’s chief military advisers. The other reason is improved surveillance. Kony has not been captured but he knows that American unmanned aerial vehicles and electronic intelligence units are looking for him and that U.S. special operations troops can provide that intelligence to Ugandan and allied forces very quickly. In late July the UN estimated that Kony’s forces have been whittled down to 150 fighters. Other sources estimate that the LRA has up to 250 fighters. The LRA fighters are operating in very small groups, some as small as four or five rebels.

August 29, 2012: The Uganda Army reported that it had seized an LRA ammunition and weapons cache after attacking an LRA camp inside the CAR on August 24. The small jungle camp was run by LRA commander Dominic Ongwen (who has been charged with war crimes by the ICC/International Criminal Court). Ugandan soldiers killed two LRA rebels during the attack and freed two abductees. Ongwen and the rest of his force escaped. Ongwen’s force was described as containing only 7-12 people. The Ugandan patrol also captured solar panels (for generating electricity), a radio set, and several military uniforms.

August 27, 2012: Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni promoted his son, Colonel Muhoozi Kainerugaba, to brigadier general. Kainerugaba commands Uganda’s special operations forces and is 38 years old.

August 23, 2012: The government reported that around 13,000 former LRA fighters have been pardoned since the Amnesty Act was implemented in 2000.

August 18, 2012: Three Ugandan Mi-24 military helicopters which crashed into Mount Kenya had deviated from their planned flight path. The helicopters were at an altitude of 3,500 meters (11,000 feet) and in thick fog when they hit Mount Kenya. The mountain is the second highest in Africa, at over 5,100 meters (17,000 feet). The official death toll is now seven soldiers killed and 15 with minor injuries. The fourth helicopter landed safely (in Garissa). A Kenyan pilot attempted to warn the helicopters that they were about to collide with the mountain. The helicopters were to be used in an operation to take the Somali seaport of Kismayo. The Al Shabaab Islamist militia still controls Kismayo.

August 16, 2012: Two missing soldiers were found shot dead inside South Sudanese territory near the Uganda-South Sudan border (Maji-Moto area). One report claimed that the two soldiers had left their unit in order to sell chickens at a South Sudanese village market. The soldiers disappeared from their unit on August 12.

August 13, 2012: The government reported that three Mi-24 helicopter gunships had crashed last night in Kenya en route to Somalia. Initial reports suggested that one helicopter had made a forced landing on Mount Kenya and another two had crashed. A fourth helicopter, an Mi-17, landed safely at Garissa, Kenya. The helicopters were on their way to Somalia to support AMISOM peacekeeping forces.

August 8, 2012: The government announced that it will send an air force contingent of helicopters to Somalia to support AMISOM operations. The government statement said that the Ugandan military will participate in an upcoming attack on the Somali port of Kismayo. The attack is expected to take place before August 20.

August 7, 2012: Ugandan soldiers will participate in a regional exercise in Rwanda designed to train military personnel in disaster management techniques and counter-terrorism. Some 1,800 troops from several East African nations will participate in the exercise.

August 5, 2012: The government claimed that a person abducted by the LRA in Sudan had provided credible evidence that LRA commander Joseph Kony is now in Sudan’s Darfur region. The Sudanese government continues to deny the allegations. Sudan claims that it quit helping Kony in 2005. From 1994 to 2005, however, Sudan did provide the LRA with weapons, training, money, and base camps.

August 1, 2012: The government has launched another disarmament program in the Karamojong tribal region in northern Uganda. This program is described as village-friendly. Soldiers will be approaching area security personnel and local leaders and asking them to help convince tribesmen to turn in illegal weapons. This is a major change in military policy. The new policy is an attempt to address charges of brutality by Ugandan military personnel.

Despite Sudan’s objections, the UN Security Council voted to approve a paragraph in the UNAMID Darfur peacekeeping force’s mandate which calls on UNAMID to cooperate and share information on the LRA. Sudan claims the LRA is not inside Sudanese territory.

July 31, 2012: The government denied allegations that the Ugandan military is supporting the renegade Congolese rebel group, M23.

July 26, 2012: The government confirmed that three international oil companies are studying a new oil pipeline proposal for exporting Ugandan oil through Kenya. The estimated cost of the 1,300 kilometer pipeline is somewhere between $3 and $5 billion. Uganda estimates that it will eventually produce 200,000 barrels of oil per day.

July 24, 2012: The government of Sudan objected to a UN proposal that would include cooperating in the international effort to fight LRA as part of the new peacekeeping mandate of the African Union-UN Mission in Darfur (UNAMID).

July 17, 2012: LRA attacks in the Congo and the CAR increased during the second quarter of 2012. Between the beginning of April and the end of June the LRA launched 62 attacks in the Congo and nine in the CAR, killing 11 people while 37 were kidnapped. So far there has been no LRA attack inside South Sudan.

July 14, 2012: Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni warned other East African countries that foreign oil companies are trying to negotiate unfair exploration and production agreements. Museveni noted that several oil companies have objected to Ugandan plans to build an oil refinery in Uganda. Ugandan intends to become a regional energy supplier.

July 13, 2012: A soldier and a wildlife ranger were killed in a firefight with the Toposa tribe near the Uganda-South Sudan border. The Toposa live in South Sudan but have a reputation for poaching in Uganda. The Toposa attackers were suspected of hunting big game illegally in Uganda. The soldier and the ranger were part of a joint military and wildlife ranger operation that had tracked a small group of poachers. The joint patrol approached the poachers and the poachers fled but succeeded in killing the two men. Soldiers and police recovered an AK-47 assault rifle dropped by the poachers during the firefight.

 

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