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Friday, 4 October, 2002, 10:22 GMT 11:22 UK
Ugandan rebels offered peace talks
Ugandan troops
Ugandan troops are facing highly mobile rebels
President Yoweri Museveni is reported to have agreed to peace talks with rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army in the north of the country in an effort to end 15 years of conflict.

A Roman Catholic archbishop who has played a leading role in trying to mediate with the rebels, John Baptist Odama, said the president has designated peace contact zones where the talks could be held.

Correspondents point out that while some rebel leaders say they are ready to negotiate, others continue to loot villages and abduct civilians.

Major Shaban Bantariza
The Ugandan army says it has the upper hand

On Thursday, the Ugandan army ordered 100,000 civilians in the north to leave their homes and move closer to camps protected by the military.

Army spokesman Shaban Bantariza told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme that the move was being made to protect civilians as the army continued its campaign against rebel groups.

He said the move was being made to prevent civilians getting caught in the crossfire between rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army and the military.

The Ugandan army is trying to wipe out the LRA, which has been fighting the government of President Yoweri Museveni for 15 years.

Hiding

Major Bantariza said that rebels hid in villagers' huts when they were pursued by the army, and civilians should therefore move closer to areas the rebels could not reach.

Major Bantariza said that in the past week alone, 20 rebels had been killed, 10 had defected, 38 people had been rescued, rifles and ammunition had been seized and food stocks meant for 300 rebels for a week had been destroyed.

Last May, the Ugandan army launched an offensive in co-operation with the Sudanese Government which, until recently, backed the LRA.

But this has only pushed the LRA back into Uganda, where they have increased their attacks.

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 ON THIS STORY
Major Bantariza
"Those civilians... should get out"

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16 Sep 02 | Africa
16 Sep 02 | Africa
14 Sep 02 | Africa
28 Aug 02 | Africa
27 Aug 02 | Africa
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