Uganda troops catch top rebel in Central African Republic

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The Ugandan military said today it had captured a feared senior rebel from the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) who is accused of leading the massacre of 250 villagers more than 14 years ago.
Okot Atiak was apparently detained last month during a campaign against the guerrillas by Ugandan forces in southeast Central African Republic (CAR). Uganda’s army spokesperson said he was providing intelligence to troops in the field.
Atiak is not one of three top LRA commanders wanted for war crimes by prosecutors at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, but he has held several senior positions in one of Africa’s most brutal rebel movements.
He is blamed for leading the fighters who slaughtered 250 civilians at Atiak village in northern Uganda’s Gulu District in April 1995. The attack was seen as an LRA reprisal against fellow ethnic Acholis who failed to support their rebellion.
“Our forces came into contact with the rebels in CAR and we captured him in action,” Ugandan army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Felix Kulayigye told Reuters by telephone from Kampala.
The militaries of Uganda, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have been fighting the LRA in remote south Sudan, northeastern DRC and southern CAR since two years of peace talks collapsed last year.
The negotiations stalled amid mutual mistrust after Joseph Kony, the rebels’ elusive leader, refused to sign a final peace agreement that the Ugandan government said would have given him and his top deputy`s immunity from ICC prosecution.
More than two decades of rebellion by the LRA have killed tens of thousands of civilians and a large swathe of central Africa has been destabilised by marauding LRA guerrillas who are notorious for slicing off body parts and abducting children.
The multinational assault on Kony’s fighters has only served to sow more chaos, with fleeing rebels attacking more villages and kidnapping hundreds of children, mostly to serve as porters.
Kulayigye said most civilians rescued by the military from the LRA in recent weeks were from Congo, CAR and southern Sudan.
“(Kony’s guerrillas) have been trying to look for survival by spreading their tentacles in the region,” he said.

Pic: Troops from Uganda