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Thursday, 21 March, 2002, 15:13 GMT
Uganda sends soldiers to free children
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By the BBC's Ishbel Matheson
in Kampala
line

Uganda has said that it is deploying more troops in southern Sudan in order to set free children abducted by a rebel group, the Lord's Resistance Army, (LRA) notorious for its cruelty.

Thousands of abducted children are currently being held by the LRA.

Children
Thousands of children have been abducted by LRA rebels

Ugandan military spokesman, Major Shabaan Bantariza, said that the army's other mission in the neighbouring state is to hunt down the rebel leader, Joseph Kony.

His followers have been carrying out widespread human rights abuses in northern Uganda.

"Mission to kill"

Major Bantarizza said bluntly that the aim was to "capture or kill Mr Kony". In the past, the rebel leader has proved to be an illusive foe.

This is the first time that the Uganda government have stated clearly and publicly that it intends to destroy the LRA.

President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda
Uganda on a mission to hunt down rebels

For years, the Khartoum government protected Mr Kony and his followers.

Now that support seems to be wavering.

New allegiance

The Ugandan and Sudanese governments recently signed a groundbreaking protocol allowing Ugandan troops to pursue the rebel group into Sudan's territory.

Under the new agreement, as many as 7,000 troops could be deployed inside southern Sudan.

The new military agreement between Kampala and Khartoum is a sign of shifting allegiances within the region.

See also:

19 Mar 02 | Africa
Uganda tackles wife-beating taboo
15 Mar 02 | Africa
Sudan lets Uganda go after rebels
07 Mar 02 | Country profiles
Country profile: Uganda
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