14 February 2009

Uganda: 146 LRA Rebels Killed

Kampala — A regional offensive to finish off the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels, planned and equipped with US support, has seen over 146 of the rebels killed and six rebel commanders captured.

"Those killed by our ground squads are now 46 plus the number of those killed by aerial raids is estimated to be over 100 going by the dead bodies our troops have come across in the bombarded forests," said Capt. Deo Akiiki, operation spokesperson.

There are 4,000 Congolese troops from the most professional brigades in a notoriously unreliable army, and an estimated 2,000 Ugandan soldiers on the ground.

"We are sure we now have got all and it is a matter of time before we stop LRA madness once and for all," said Capt. Akiiki.

He said the LRA capacity to abduct and kill has been gravely reduced. They are being starved and no longer have time to sit or plan as our forces reduce their numbers daily.

Akiiki argued that the operation is on track and unlike conventional warfare, counter-insurgency operations require patience, mastering of the enemy's change of tactics and terrain.

The rebels are, however, still at large and increasingly more deadly. The UN estimated that over 900 civilians have been killed since the offensive was launched on December 14, 2008.

Meanwhile the army has expressed doubt over the intention of LRA second-in-command Okot Odhiambo to surrender.

"Odhiambo is still buying time to surrender. IOM and the UN are doing their part as we do ours in ensuring that he comes out. Going by the time since he declared his intention to surrender, we can't take it serious until he surrenders," he said.

Odhiambo reportedly called the IOM three weeks ago and declared that he was defecting and was seeking for clemency from the Kampala government.

The Kinshasa government yesterday granted the joint force an indefinite mandate to stay in the DR Congo. Initially, the forces had been given till end of February to hunt down the rebels.

"The meeting of a high-level delegation between Uganda and DRC suspended any further rationing of time frame and deadlines for the operation," Akiiki said.

"Operations will, therefore, go on until the Kony terrorists are routed out of the DR Congo although reviewing will only occur where necessary," he added

The meeting at Allied forces tactical headquarters in Dungu was attended by army commanders and intelligence officers from the two countries.

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