BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Somali Swahili French Great Lakes Hausa Portugeuse
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Africa  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
Wednesday, 24 July, 2002, 21:08 GMT 22:08 UK
Uganda rebels grab ex-president's brother
Ugandan forces in southern Sudan
The Ugandan army has been trying to wipe out the LRA

In a high profile abduction, Lord's Resistance Army rebels in northern Uganda have taken the brother of the late former president, General Tito Okello.

While the Ugandan army says it has killed another 14 fighters of the LRA, the rebels have continued their campaign of looting and abducting civilians in the north.

The abduction of the former president's brother, Erisanweri Opira, is unusual as the rebels normally abduct young Ugandans whom they then conscript into their forces or keep as concubines for the senior LRA members.

And it has been confirmed that 18 women and 13 children seized by the LRA have now been released.

Ugandan children
Thousands of children have been kidnapped by the LRA

They had been in captivity for between three and five years and were released yesterday in Pajule, Pader District about 300 km north of the capital, Kampala.

One of the bishops who was recently given the go-ahead by President Yoweri Museveni to enter a dialogue with the LRA has described the releases as a goodwill gesture.

But other Ugandans will say the release is simply to enable LRA fighters to operate more effectively as a highly mobile force.

Uncle of minister

Erisanweri Opira was abducted by the LRA rebels at his home in the Kitgum District of northern Uganda.

Opira, who is in his 70s, was abducted along with a group of teenagers yesterday morning. He is the brother of the late former president, General Tito Okello.

General Okello was president for six months until he was overthrown by President Yoweri Museveni in 1986.

The spokesman for the Ugandan army's 4th division, Paddy Ankunda, told me that the UPDF soldiers are doing everything possible and are working around the clock to rescue him.

Ugandan soldier
The Ugandan army is fighting back against LRA attacks
Mr Opira is also the uncle of Henry Oryem Okello, the current Minister of State for Education and Sport.

Henry Okello is in Manchester, England, for the forthcoming Commonwealth Games. Speaking by phone from there he told the Ugandan media: "It is my prayer that they release him."

The rebels have abducted hundreds of people in recent weeks during attacks across northern districts of Uganda. The majority are released once they have been used to carry loot for the rebels.

But dozens of abductees - usually those under the age of 30 - are unaccounted for and are still in the hands of the rebels.

As Erisanweri Opira is an elderly man, it is likely that he might be released, as he would be of little use to a highly mobile rebel force.

The rebels have been looting telecommunications equipment and mobile phones to increase their effectiveness. It is also known that the LRA rebels have started to lay anti-personnel landmines, which army field engineers are now trying to make safe.

On Monday, one man ended up in hospital after he ran over a mine on his bicycle.

This is likely to further instil fear in the civilian population.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Henry Okello, on the BBC's Focus on Africa:
"He was abducted to relay the message of the LRA"
See also:

15 Jul 02 | Africa
10 Jul 02 | Africa
03 Jul 02 | Africa
30 Sep 02 | Africa
21 Jun 02 | Africa
07 Mar 02 | Country profiles
31 May 02 | Country profiles
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Africa stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Africa stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes