UGANDA: Rebels kill 19 in fourth raid on IDP camps in a month

KAMPALA, 9 June 2004 (IRIN) - Rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) launched a fourth raid within a month on a camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in northern Uganda on Tuesday, killing at least 19 people and burning over 200 huts, the Ugandan army and witnesses said.

The army spokesman in the area, Lt Paddy Ankunda, told IRIN from Gulu town, 360 km north of the capital, Kampala, that the LRA had attacked the camp located 50 km southeast of the town, at sunset and ignited several huts.

"They [rebels] killed 19 civilians, the majority of whom were burnt inside their huts," Ankunda said on Wednesday. "Other people were killed during crossfire as they tried to scamper for their lives, and 10 injured people have been admitted in Ngai hospital."

Tommy Ayieko, a teacher in the area, told IRIN that over 100 rebels raided the camp. He said in an exchange of fire with the army, many grass-thatched huts caught fire, burning some of the victims inside.

"Over 100 rebels attacked the camp and 10 people with bullet and fire wounds have been taken to hospital. As I talk to you now we are preparing to bury my four-year-old niece," Ayieko said. "We left other people in the camp digging graves to bury the others."

On 3 June, at least 23 civilians were killed in the northern Kitgum District when the LRA attacked Kalo-Obong camp, some 60 km east of Kitgum town. This preceded separate attacks on two other camps in the district of Gulu, where over 50 people were killed.

The LRA has waged war against the Ugandan government for 18 years in the north, frequently attacking villages and trading centres, murdering or torturing civilians and abducting scores of children for forcible recruitment as soldiers, porters or sex slaves. The war has displaced at least 1.6 million people who now live in camps scattered across the region.

In February, the rebels killed hundreds of IDPs when they attacked a camp in Barlonyo, near Lira town, south of Gulu. The army blamed the deaths on the laxity of local commanders, who, it said, had allowed the IDPs to set up a camp in an area that was not well protected.

Theme (s): Refugees/IDPs,


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