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Last Updated: Sunday, 22 February, 2004, 19:48 GMT
Rebels massacre Uganda civilians
Ugandans bury some of the victims of a rebel attack in Barlonya camp in Lira district
The government has been fighting the rebels for 18 years
A rebel attack in northern Uganda has left 192 people dead and many injured, according to witnesses.

Carried out by the Lord's Resistance Army, the killings are thought to be the worst in several years.

The rebels armed with assault rifles, artillery and rocket-propelled grenades attacked and then set alight a camp for displaced people north of Lira.

For almost two decades the authorities have been fighting the LRA, which is known for its brutality.

'Terrible scene'

The attack on Barlonya camp, about 26km (16 miles) north of Lira town, apparently took place on Saturday afternoon.

As the insurgents surrounded the camp, many people ran to their grass huts, and were burned as the insurgents torched their houses, said legislator Charles Anjiro.

I've never seen in my life such a massacre.
Ugandan priest

"It's a hopeless situation, we went there this morning with the Lira district police commander and physically counted 192 bodies. The scene is terrible," he said.

Fifty-six people were taken to the hospital with burns, shrapnel and gunshot wounds, one of whom died on Sunday, said Dr Jane Aceng, head of Lira hospital.

Around 5,000 people, most of whom had fled fighting between the rebels and government troops, were living in the camp. Altogether, the conflict is said to have displaced at least one million people. The camp was being guarded by a local defence who were outnumbered and outgunned, an army spokesman said.


"I've never seen in my life such a massacre... I saw in one hut alone a whole family members still burning," a Ugandan priest in Lira told the BBC.

The LRA, led by self-proclaimed mystic Joseph Kony, are known for kidnapping and brutalising young children, many of whom end up fighting for them. The group is based in lawless areas of neighbouring southern Sudan.

The Ugandan army says the rebels attack the camps to divert its attention away from hunting the insurgents down in the bush.

The Ugandan army said 25 rebels were killed in a different area on Saturday.

However, while the army claims to be weakening the rebels, civilians remain extremely vulnerable, says the BBC's Will Ross, in the capital Kampala.

Newly recruited militias have so far been unable to defend the population, he says.


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Peter Greste
"The LRA is clearly undefeated"



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