Rebels in northern Uganda (search) ambushed a truckload of civilians that included school children and killed seven people, prompting an army counterattack that left three rebels dead, officials said Saturday.

Guerrillas from the Lord's Resistance Army (search) staged the attack near Kalongo (search), 235 miles north of Kampala, on Thursday night, said Morris Ogenga Latigo, the area's member of parliament. He said three children and four men were killed.

A spokesman for the army in the region, Capt. Paddy Ankunda (search), confirmed the attack. "We made a pursuit and a counterattack a few hours later and killed three rebels," he said.

The rebels control no territory, and move in small groups of 10 to 20 fighters to elude government troops. The shadowy group has little contact with the outside world and was not reachable for comment on the ambush.

Fighting broke out in the north shortly after President Yoweri Museveni's National Resistance Movement (search) took power in 1986. Rebels leaders have said they want to overthrow Museveni and replace the constitution with the Bible's Ten Commandments (search).

The rebellion has been marked mostly by rebel attacks on civilians and the abduction of children, who are trained as soldiers or become concubines. More than 1.5 million people have been driven from their homes by fighting and 30,000 children have been kidnapped, the United Nations says.

Recent attempts to negotiate an end to the fighting, which has spread into southern Sudan, failed but efforts are under way to restart peace talks.