Ten Ugandan troops were killed in the Central African Republic last month, and the likely culprit is a Sudanese militia group linked to the government, the Janjaweed, army officials said on Tuesday.
The Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) had earlier denied media reports of the incident, which occurred on May 27 while a UPDF contingent was hunting for remnants of a Ugandan rebel group, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).
The New Vision, a Kampala daily, quoted the UPDF’s chief of defence forces, General Aronda Nyakairima, confirming the deaths of soldiers and suggesting that it was not the LRA that killed them, but most likely Sudan’s Janjaweed.
The paper said the soldiers were attacked by about 400 men on donkey backs, and quoted Nyakairima as saying that was a sign of their link to Sudan.
The army had previously denied reports of the soldiers’ deaths in another Ugandan paper, the Daily Monitor. The Monitor, which is independent, had quoted unnamed sources saying the 10 soldiers had been killed by the LRA.
UPDF spokesperson Felix Kulaigye told Reuters the New Vision‘s account of the general’s comments was right. The LRA could not have killed the soldiers because the group’s capabilities have been greatly degraded, the paper had quoted Nyakairima as saying.
“Kony’s capacity to cause trouble has been reduced. If he was causing chaos in neighbouring countries, there would be refugees in our country,” he said, referring to LRA leader Joseph Kony.
The LRA has fought to try to dislodge President Yoweri Museveni’s government for about two decades from bases in northern Uganda and southern Sudan.
The LRA is known for its savage acts on the civilian population, including abducting boys and girls to use as sex slaves and child soldiers, to wring support from the local population or as punishment to perceived civilian enemies.
Although the LRA has been unable to make incursions to its traditional bases in northern Uganda since around 2005, the rebels have been accused by international human rights organisations of conducting a series of massacres and lootings in north-0eastern DRC and Central African Republic in the past two years. — Reuters