Ugandan rebels massacre 45 Congolese civilians

December 29th, 2008 - 6:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Kampala, Dec 29 (DPA) The Ugandan rebel group Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has massacred 45 people in a church in the north-east Congo, Uganda’s government-backed New Vision
newspaper reported Monday.The newspaper quoted witnesses as saying the LRA used machetes, swords and clubs to kill the people - amongst them women and children - who had taken refuge in a Catholic church near the border with the Central African Republic.

The LRA is now accused of killing around 90 people in a series of attacks over the Christmas period.

Military officials said they had killed 13 LRA guerrillas involved in the church attack and were pursuing the rest of the group.

The Congolese, Ugandan and southern Sudanese armies in mid-December began ground and aerial attacks on LRA bases in the Garamba national game park in the remote north-east of the DR Congo.

The rebels have been hiding out in Garamba since late 2004 after being flushed out of their bases in South Sudan.

However, the LRA has said that the bases destroyed in the offensive were empty and that none of the rebel leaders have been killed.

The LRA, led by former lay preacher Joseph Kony, unleashed terror in Uganda’s northern region, where its rebellion has displaced nearly two million people from their homes.

Thousands of civilians have died in the decades-long conflict, while thousands of children, mostly children, have been abducted and forced to fight or serve as sex slaves.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2005 issued arrest warrants for five LRA leaders, including Kony, for trial for murder, torture, rape, abductions and the drafting of children in warfare.

The Ugandan government and the rebels entered into talks to end the war mid-2006, but the rebels have refused to sign the final peace treaty this year.

They insist that The Hague-based court should first withdraw its indictments.

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