KAMPALA, Uganda – Rebels have seized dozens of children in recent weeks — including 100 during a raid in the Central African Republic and 30 on the Sudan-Congo border, a senior military official said Tuesday.
The raids by suspected Lord's Resistance Army rebels occurred despite peace talks to end the two-decade-long conflict.
The United Nations estimates that rebels have abducted 20,000 children since the start of their rebellion in 1987. Boys are trained as fighters and porters, while the girls are used as sex slaves, the U.N. says.
The LRA and the Ugandan government have been engaged in peace talks for nearly two years, and have negotiated a final peace deal. But early last month, rebel leader Joseph Kony failed to turn up for the signing ceremony, casting doubt over his commitment to the peace process.
Last month, the rebels abducted 100 children during a raid in the Central African Republic and 30 along the Sudan-Congo border, Ugandan army spokesman Paddy Ankunda told The Associated Press. He said the rebels have bases in both the Central African Republic and Congo.
However, he insisted the peace talks are not dead. He said government negotiators are waiting for communication from the rebels' mediation team.
Human Rights Watch called Monday for international action to end the rebels' reported new spree of abductions and atrocities. It also called for international arrest warrants for the group's leaders.
The LRA was born out of a northern rebellion that began in 1986 soon after President Yoweri Museveni, a southerner, seized power amid allegations of widespread human rights violations by his troops.