Africa

Uganda admits to military operations in CAR

Staff Reporter

Ugandan troops have crossed into neighbouring Central African Republic in pursuit of LRA rebels with Bangui's blessing, a spokesperson said Tuesday.

Ugandan troops have crossed into neighbouring Central African Republic (CAR) in pursuit of Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels with Bangui’s blessing, an army spokesperson said Tuesday.

“This is not a secret—our forces have been there,” defence spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Felix Kulayigye told Agence France-Presse on Tuesday.

He is the first Ugandan government official to admit publicly that Kampala has carried its fight against Joseph Kony’s LRA rebels into the CAR.

Several other sources, notably civil society and humanitarian groups, have already reported a Ugandan military presence in its neighbour.

“Because of pressure from the [Ugandan] military, the rebels escaped to CAR. We asked CAR and they have okayed our operation on their territory because these terrorists have been killing civilians there,” Kulayigye said.

The LRA, which has been active since 1988, is considered to be one of the world’s most brutal guerrilla groups.

Since 2005 LRA fighters have left their bases in northern Uganda and have set up camps in the far north-east of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

From there they fanned out into Sudan’s Western Equatoria province and into the Central African Republic.

From September to March this year, the Ugandan and Congolese armies, with support from southern Sudan, carried out a massive offensive that failed to either capture Kony or neutralise his group.

Since then, peace talks have ground to a halt and LRA fighters have stepped up their attacks on civilians, in particular in eastern CAR.

Over the last few months, the CAR authorities have on several occasions expressed their willingness to “cooperate” with Kampala and Kinshasa to flush out the last marauding gangs of LRA fighters in the region.—AFP

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