Kampala - Uganda has handed over 11 rebels loyal to Democratic Republic of Congo's cashiered general Laurent Nkunda back to the troubled central African nation, the army said on Wednesday.
The captives were handed over late on Tuesday at Mpondwe border post after they were arrested straying into Uganda.
"We recognise DRC has a legitimate government. So our act of handing over these rebels is within our efforts to maintain good relationship with our neighbours," said Tabaro Kiconco, a Ugandan army spokesman in the country's western region.
"It has been the character of general Nkunda's fighters to cross into Uganda to rob people's property," he told AFP.
The Ugandan army has boosted army deployments along its porous, mountainous border with eastern DRC, where the renegade commander has been battling the government in an escalating conflict that has spurred fears of a humanitarian crisis.
Fierce fighting between the army and Nkunda loyalists in particular has gripped Nord-Kivu since August 2007, displacing 400 000 people according to the United Nations.
Nkunda has called for Rwandan Hutu rebels, some of whom are accused of participating in that country's 1994 genodice, to be driven from DR Congo - and for the return of around 46,000 Tutsi refugees forced into exile by violence.
The DR Congo is still emerging from a ruinous war that embroiled half a dozen other African nations, after decades of corrupt rule, and depends on its great mineral wealth.