Kampala — SUDANESE militia, the Janjaweed, not LRA rebels, probably killed over 10 Ugandan soldiers in the Central African Republic (CAR) recently, the army has said.
The militia group is said to be enlisted by the Sudanese government to fight rebels in Darfur. Since February 2003, they have conducted a "scorched earth" campaign, targeting civilian villages throughout western Sudan.
The Chief of Defence Forces, Gen. Aronda Nyakairima, yesterday said the UPDF soldiers were deployed to hunt down Joseph Kony, the head of the LRA rebels, whom he said could not have carried out the killing because he has greatly been weakened.
Nyakairima made the remarks at a press conference in Kampala yesterday following reports that the LRA was responsible for the killing of the over 10 UPDF soldiers, among them top officers.
Nyakairima said the May 27 ambush on a "squad" of UPDF soldiers occurred north-west of Djema. The soldiers were attacked by about 400 men on donkey backs, which he said, was a sign of their link to Sudan.
Before the clash, which is being probed, the Uganda soldiers had been informed that Kony's accomplices had stolen food from the area, the army boss added.
Apparently, the attackers often go into the vast country to hunt for animals whose meat is loaded onto donkeys before they trek back to the Sudan.
Nyakairima said Lt. Gen. Katumba Wamala, the head of the land forces, had traveled there to gather information about the group, adding that the injured were receiving treatment. However, he neither named the dead nor the injured.
Nyakairima added that Kony, who fled to the DR Congo and later to the Central African Republic, after the UPDF flushed him out of Uganda, had "no capacity to abduct and cannot replenish military wise", but was in the "business of stealing so that he can live for another day".
Kony, who caused untold suffering in northern Uganda during the over 20-year long insurgency, is said to have sought refuge in a forest in CAR with commanders Caesar Acellam and Odhiambo. Only Dominic Ongwen is hiding in the DR Congo.
"Kony's capacity to cause trouble has been reduced. If he was causing chaos in neighbouring countries, there would be refugees in our country," Nyakairima stressed.
Lack of a safe haven, he noted, and cooperation from neighbouring states, had dealt Kony a great blow.