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3 African armies strike at Uganda rebels in Congo

Monday, December 15, 2008

KAMPALA, Uganda —  Three African armies have launched an offensive against Ugandan rebels based in eastern Congo in an attempt to end one of the continent's longest and most brutal wars, military officials said Monday.

Uganda, southern Sudan and Congo attacked the Lord's Resistance Army bases Sunday and wiped out the main camp used by the rebels' elusive leader, Joseph Kony, in Congo, said Col. Leon-Richard Kasonga, spokesman for Congo's army.

"We set it on fire," Kasonga said.

There was no immediate word on casualties. Lambert Mende, a spokesman for the government of Congo, said he could not confirm whether Kony was there at the time of the attack.

The Lord's Resistance Army has been waging one of Africa's longest and most brutal rebellions for 20 years, drawing in northern Uganda, eastern Congo and southern Sudan. The rebels were notorious for raping children and using them as soldiers.

Peace talks with the Ugandan government have stalled. Rebel leaders seek guarantees they will not be arrested under international warrants. Kony and other top members are wanted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Paddy Ankunda, a Ugandan army spokesman, said the attacks are meant to bring stability to the region and "will continue until Kony and his rebels are completely finished."

A spokesman for the LRA rebels, David Matsanga, condemned the attacks and threatened to retaliate.

"The attacks will disrupt the peace process," he said. "It may lead to retaliation by the LRA, which will be unfortunate, especially to civilians in the three countries."

U.S. State Department spokesman Robert Wood said Washington had military-to-military relationships with all three countries but had not been involved in any combat operations.

"We welcome the activities that these countries have taken against the Lord's Resistance Army. All the Lord's Resistance Army has done over the last 20 years has caused havoc in those countries," he said.


AP Writer Eddy Isango contributed to this report from Kinshasa, Congo.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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