Uganda's LRA attacks kill 26

2010-03-30 17:15

Bangui - New attacks by the Ugandan rebel Lord's Resistance Army left 26 fighters and civilians dead, including a woman burnt alive, with at least 40 people abducted, officials said on Tuesday.

The attacks were revealed after Human Rights Watch claimed on Sunday the rebel group massacred 321 people in December in a previously unreported incident in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo, a charge which has been disputed.

The DRC's Justice Minister Lessa Bambi Luzolo on Tuesday said in a statement that civilian victims totalled "no more than 25".

In Central Africa the fighters stormed three villages near the southeastern border with the DRC between March 21 and 28, Central African officials said on condition of anonymity.

The first attack was on the village of Agoumar on March 21, the official said from the southeastern border city of Bangassou.

"The attack on Agoumar lead to the deaths of 11 people - 10 civilians including a woman who was burnt alive by the rebels, and an element from the LRA who was killed by the villagers who organised to defend themselves," he said.

Door to door

In the village of Dembia, attacked on March 28, "LRA elements were chased by the Ugandan army which killed at least 15 rebels," the source added.

Karmadar village was attacked on March 25 but did not result in any casualties.

In each case, the rebels used "the same process of going door to door, taking hostages from the population, and taking away items of value, as well as provisions," he said.

More than 40 people were taken hostage from the three villages, said an official in Bangassou, where about 400 people had taken refuge from the fighting.

The LRA took up arms in 1988 in northern Uganda and has acquired a reputation for brutality with its leaders wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes.

Since 2005, under pressure from the Ugandan army, the fighters pulled back from their bases in Uganda to move into the remote northeast of the DRC, where they were said to number fewer than 100 late last year, according to the UN mission in the country.