Museveni 'sorry' for not preventing massacre

Published Feb 24, 2004


Kampala - Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni apologised on Tuesday for the army's failure to prevent a weekend massacre in which witnesses said more than 200 people were slaughtered.

Museveni visited survivors of the massacre in hospital in Lira, 250km north of the capital Kampala, and said poor co-ordination among military commanders was to blame for the attack.

"On behalf of the Ugandan military, I apologise to the people," said the former army general, speaking to reporters in an uncharacteristically subdued voice.

Rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) attacked and destroyed Barlonyo camp for displaced persons shortly before dusk on Saturday, shooting or hacking to death civilians as they tried to flee and burning others alive in their huts.

Museveni said the military would defeat the LRA, which has waged a 17-year guerrilla war in northern Uganda.

"We shall win as we have won all previous battles," Museveni said.

Museveni is being accused of trying to play down the death toll in the massacre, putting it at 80. However, a local member of parliament, a missionary and other witnesses said they counted nearly 200 bodies, while others died in hospital.

A death toll of 200 would make the attack the deadliest by the LRA since 1995, when they rounded up and shot 30 villagers near the town of Gulu.

The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague said in a statement on Monday that he would investigate the massacre with an eye to a possible war crimes prosecution.

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan strongly condemned the attack on Monday.


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