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Ugandan rebels fled into eastern DRCongo

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Sept 19, 2005 (KAMPALA) — About 50 LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) rebels commanded by Joseph Kony’s deputy Vincent Otti have crossed into the DR Congo’s Oriental Province, army commander Lt-Gen Aronda Nyakairima has said.

Nyakairima said this on Sunday 18 September after meeting SPLA (Sudan People’s Liberation Army) officers from Juba at Heritage Inn in Arua town on Saturday 17 September. He said notorious LRA commander Abdema was also part of the group that crossed the White Nile River for the first time on Tuesday last week 13 September, into the southern Sudanese town of Yei where they torched houses and abducted many people. "SPLA commanders have confirmed that Otti and his group crossed Yei-Malid road at Milo eight, 14 km from the Congolese border, towards Garamba National Park," Nyakairima said.

He said LRA chief Kony, who seems to be changing strategy, was suspected to have crossed the White Nile at a different location north of Juba. "We have also learnt that as the Ottis were crossing in the south, Kony was crossing in the north to an area we are yet to find out," he added. Nyakairima said another group led by Odiambo of the Bar-lonyo massacre, was by Saturday trying to cross the White Nile to join their colleagues near the Congolese border.

Flanked by Arua resident district commissioner Alfred Omony Ogaba and the UPDF (Uganda People’s Defence Forces) Overall Intelligence Coordinator in the north, Col Charles Otema, Nyakairima said the UPDF had reduced Kony’s arms and fighters in battles in northern Uganda and southern Sudan and that his new move was to escape.

He said the Government had put pressure on the Khartoum government to allow the UPDF hunt Kony in Sudan beyond the red line but negotiations were put on hold due to the formation of a new Sudanese government after a peace deal. Kony "death was in sight had we got permission to follow him past the red line. He is now fleeing for his life just like Lakwena did," Nyakairima said. The red line is the point beyond which the UPDF cannot cross. He said the UPDF had secured the entire northern region, apart from commander Okuti’s group of about 30 fighters, suspected to be in Kalongo and rebels in sick bays.

(The New Vision/ST)

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