Hostages rescued from LRA rebels

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iol pic afr lra- AFP Ceasar Acellam, a senior member of the Lord's Resistance Army, speaks to the press at a Ugandan army base in Djema. File picture: Michele Sibiloni

Kampala - Ugandan troops have rescued 45 women and children held by fugitive Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels after battles with the elusive jungle insurgents, the army said Wednesday.

It said they were freed in two separate batches earlier this month in Digba, in the remote forests of northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

“We rescued from the LRA 45 people, the latest (batch) being 32 women and children,” Ugandan army spokesman Paddy Ankunda told AFP.

He said another batch of 13 women and children had also been freed.

The Ugandan-led rebels raid villages and enslave residents, forcing them to work as fighters or porters.

“The release of civilians, and surrender of the fighters, is because of the pressure our army has exerted on the rebels,” Ankunda said.

The Ugandan army is leading a US-backed African Union force tasked with capturing the LRA's leaders, several of whom are wanted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

It operates with agreement of countries across the region.

Rebel chief Joseph Kony, who launched a rebellion in Uganda two decades ago, is wanted by the ICC along with fellow top commanders on war crimes and crimes against humanity charges including murder, sexual slavery and using child soldiers.

Long driven out of Uganda, LRA fighters now roam forest regions of Central African Republic, Sudan, South Sudan and DR Congo.

Sapa-AFP


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