UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
SUDAN-UGANDA: Dozens killed as LRA rebels raid Sudanese villages
KAMPALA, 26 Jul 2004 (IRIN) - Dozens of people were killed and homes burnt or looted on Friday when Ugandan Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels raided villages in southern Sudan, religious and Sudanese rebel sources told IRIN on Monday.
"The Lord's Resistance Army raided the small village of Moti on Friday morning, where they overran our small detachment there and killed seven of our fighters before they descended on the villages. Civilians were killed, but I don't have the clear picture of how many," George Riak, the Sudan Peoples' Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) liaison officer in Kampala, said.
However, Riak said Friday's fighting would not affect the peace negotiations taking place in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.
Rev Paul Yugusuk, a church minister of the remote Anglican Archdeaconry of Lomega in southern Sudan said the LRA-SPLA fighting took place about 50 km southeast of Juba and about 16 km west of Torit in the eastern Equatoria Province.
He added: "I cannot tell the exact number of people killed, but in one village we found five bodies, then 10 in another and another 20 in yet another village. What I am sure of is that more then 100 people have been killed in the past two to three weeks."
In early July, religious leaders confirmed reports by a rebel faction in southern Sudan, the Equatoria Defence Forces (EDF), that the LRA rebels had killed 100 people in two days of arson, looting and murder in villages near the town of Magwi in Equatoria Province.
Charles Barnaba Kisanga, the UK-based EDF secretary-general, issued a statement on Friday saying hundreds of LRA rebels, allegedly supported by Sudanese government army helicopters, "launched a fresh attack on the village of Moti under the control of EDF forces of the SPLA."
"According to commanders Obotu Mamur [SPLA] and Martin Kenyi [EDF] LRA rebels moved on Moti at 05:00 a.m. [local time] this morning [23rd July 2004] and attacked our positions and our forces engaged them in heavy fighting. Our positions have been strafed time and again by army helicopter gunship in aid of the LRA rebels," he said.
Kisanga also alleged that LRA rebels also "overrun the villages east of Polu towards Kapoeta and killed dozens of villagers and took away about 2,000 heads of cattle" on 19 July.
In a related development, participants of a meeting of civil society, religious and cultural leaders from northern Uganda and southern Sudan on Saturday called for a political solution to the conflict in northern Uganda, which they said would ensure lasting and sustainable peace in war affected northern region.
"We draw the attention of the government of Uganda to the strategy of dialogue and amnesty used in bringing a peaceful end to the conflict in the West Nile region to be applied in ending the current conflict," they said in a statement issued in the northern Ugandan town of Gulu.
They added: "We call for the immediate peaceful resolution of the conflict preceded by a ceasefire and appeal to the international community and the peace-loving people to help the warring parties in this process."
The meeting was organised by SPLM and Ugandan authorities.
The participants said although the conflict in northern Uganda had been described as one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world, "the regional and the international communities have not given enough attention to bring it to an end.
"The regional and the international diplomatic response has been intermittent, uncoordinated and insufficient to a large extent," they said. "We believe that the role played by the IGAD [Inter-Government Authority on Development], the African Union, the US and the EU in the region should also be extended to resolving the conflict in northern Uganda."
The leader of the Roman Catholic Church in northern Uganda, Archbishop John Baptist Odama, told IRIN that church and cultural representatives from both southern and northern Sudan made up the Sudanese delegation of 18 representatives while 48 delegates represented Ugandan churches and civil society organisations.
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