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Ugandan army secures road to Juba

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Feb 1, 2007 (KAMPALA) — Uganda has deployed troops all through the Sudanese border in a bid to secure Juba road and prevent rebel LRA from crossing to Uganda, the New Vision reported.

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Lord’s Resistance Army soldiers stand guard at the assembly point in Owiny Ki Bul, some 160km (100 miles) south of Juba, Sudan. Sep 20, 2006 (Reuters)

The Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) has deployed massively in the Sudanese border town of Nimule and along most of the 190 km stretch leading to the South Sudan capital Juba.

Columns of soldiers patrol the dusty road up to about 30 km from Juba. Other soldiers stand quietly at the border crossing points, their guns at the ready. Whereas the Nimule crossing previously had no UPDF presence, Sudanese nationals now have to line up at a Ugandan detachment to buy a permit before they can enter into Uganda.

They also have to register at a newly-created customs point at a Uganda military outpost in Bibiya, one km from Nimule.

Sudanese have to pay 20 dollars (about 36,000 shillings) for a travel permit, while Ugandans pay three dollars for an exit permit. Until last week, the border was a free-crossing zone.

This reporter saw armed soldiers on Tuesday 30 January at the border. More troops were scattered in the sparse vegetation at both sides of the border. Close to Juba, military vehicles of UPDF were stationed at a river crossing, with soldiers on top of them.

The Ugandan military has been deployed in South Sudan up to Aruu for four years under an agreement with Khartoum that allowed the country to pursue the rebels into Sudan.

Army spokesman Maj Felix Kulayigye said the deployments aimed at providing security in the wake of the recent ambushes along the road. A series of ambushes between Nimule and Juba left at least eight people dead in January alone. The LRA has consistently denied responsibility.

But four defected LRA fighters, who talked on Radio Mega FM in Gulu on 15 January, said they had taken part in the ambushes and the orders came from leaders Joseph Kony and Vincent Otti.

(The New Vision)

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