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Saturday, August 1, 1998 Published at 20:18 GMT 21:18 UK

World: Africa

Ugandan rebels strike back

The rebels are trying to overthrow President Yoweri Museveni

Ugandan rebels attacked the western town of Kasese on Saturday, killing at least 13 people.

About 100 well-armed rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) approached the town in the early hours of the morning.

According to security sources, the rebels first blew up the electricity transformer, plunging the town into darkness.

Then they divided, with a decoy group heading towards the airfield, and the remainder setting off for the centre of town.

People burned alive

During the raid, the rebels burned at least 25 vehicles, including three buses and four lorries.

Several civilians were burned alive when the rebels set ablaze two popular lodges. There were also two policemen among the dead.

The attack happened less than two months after the Ugandan army started a new offensive against the rebels in the Ruwenzori Mountains.

Promted by an ADF raid on a technical institute in June, in which at least 45 people were killed, President Yoweri Museveni, appointed his trusted chief-of-staff, Brigadier James Kazini, as the new commander in the region.

Government offensive

Brigadier Kazini immediately launched an aggressive offensive, relocating his base across the border in the Democratic Republic of Congo and overrunning at least two ADF camps.

Security officials believe that Saturday's attack on Kasese, which is the army's first major set-back since the launch of their offensive, was intended to draw attention away from the rebels' mountain bases.

Rebels still strong

But a rebel spokesman told the BBC that the attack proved that the ADF was still strong, despite Brigadier Kazini's much publicised operations.

The ADF rebels have been fighting since 1996 in an attempt to overthrow President Yoweri Museveni, whom they accuse of trying to set up a Tutsi empire in the Great Lakes region.

They are a coalition force of anti-Museveni groups, including the formerly defunct rebel National Army for the Liberation of Uganda (NALU), the Moslem Tabliq sect and soldiers of the former governments of Rwanda and Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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