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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 April, 2003, 09:17 GMT 10:17 UK
Ambush in northern Uganda
Uganda army tank
The army is back on the offensive

Several people have been killed in an ambush by suspected rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army guerrilla in northern Uganda.

Witnesses said the army was escorting a civilian convoy in Gulu district when it came under attack.

There are conflicting figures over the number of casualties.

The attack comes just two days after President Yoweri Museveni ordered the Ugandan army to resume operations against LRA fighters.

After the announcement of an LRA ceasefire, the government declared a cessation of hostilities in one northern area to enable face to face talks between the rebels and a Presidential Peace Team.

But LRA attacks and abductions have continued.

Talks failure

The BBC's Will Ross in Kampala says that the failure for the sides to meet face to face is down to the almost total lack of trust between the rebels and the government.

A statement over the weekend from presidential peace negotiators accused the LRA of refusing to respond positively to the government six-week cessation of hostilities.

During that time they said, the LRA had killed 64 innocent people, injured 60 and abducted 192 civilians.

The statement says that the Ugandan army cannot extend the safe zone anymore as it would be pandering to the LRA's impunity of killing while claiming to be ready for talks.

Ugandan MP Regan Okumu, who is on the presidential peace team charged with holding talks with the rebels, told the BBC that the LRA ceasefire had been a failure.

In an interview, Mr Okumu said the rebels had also failed to move their forces into designated safe areas, because they feared that the safe zones might be a government trap.

But despite these problems, Mr Okumu said that efforts should continue to build trust and initiate contacts with the LRA.

The LRA rebellion in northern Uganda has lasted 16 years, during which time thousands of children have been abducted and conscripted to fight alongside the rebels.




SEE ALSO:
Uganda welcomes rebel truce
04 Mar 03  |  Africa
Ugandan rebels kidnap children
28 Feb 03  |  Africa
Surviving Uganda's rebellion
02 Dec 02  |  Africa
Country profile: Uganda
11 Jan 03  |  Country profiles


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