18 October 2005

Uganda, SPLA Fight Kony

Kampala — The UPDF and the Sudanese People's Liberation Army (SPLA) have launched a joint operation against the LRA rebels who ambushed a UPDF convoy on the Yei-Maridi road on Friday.

SPLA sources from the southern Sudanese town of Yei said the army had for the last three days engaged both ground troops and helicopter gunships to hunt about 40 LRA rebels who killed UPDF and SPLA soldiers.

By yesterday afternoon, the army had intensified the battle on the Sudan-Congo border, after receiving information that LRA deputy chief Vincent Otti, commanded the October 14 ambush on the convoy of the UPDF 79th Battalion commanding officer, Lt. Col. John Byoma.

The double-cabin pick-up truck that Byoma and the Battalion's intelligence officer were travelling in was hit and set ablaze by a Rocket Propelled Grenade.

The army had originally put the figure of the dead UPDF at two but a highly-placed source said on telephone from Yei, that two SPLA and four UPDF soldiers were killed in the attack. He also said seven people, including Byoma, who was shot in the leg, were injured.

"We lost two (SPLA) people," the source said.

Arua-based army spokesman Capt. Anech Mubangizi, refuted reports that the 79th Battalion intelligence officer, was among the four soldiers killed,

By Monday, the bodies were still at the UPDF base in Bandame, 40 miles from Yei.

Anech had earlier said Otti and about 400 rebels who in mid-September crossed into DRC were struggling to cross back to their original bases across the White Nile in southern Sudan.

The rebels are reportedly swapping routes to confuse any troops that maybe following them.

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