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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 July, 2004, 09:42 GMT 10:42 UK
Uganda 'war crimes' probe opens
Bodies of those killed in LRA attack
The LRA rebels are notorious for their brutality
The world court has begun an investigation into war crimes allegedly committed by Ugandan rebels.

The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) is accused of abducting some 20,000 children, forcing the boys to become fighters and the girls sex slaves.

The investigation comes a day after Uganda's army said it had nearly captured LRA leader Joseph Kony.

Four of his wives and many of his children were captured in a rebel camp in southern Sudan, the army says.

"We are investigating any crimes committed in northern Uganda after July 2002. We have the full support for this from the authorities in Uganda," said International Criminal Court prosecution spokesman Christian Palme.

The BBC's Will Ross in Uganda says the LRA has no clear political agenda, but has been terrorising the population of northern Uganda for the past 18 years.

Sudan co-operation

Some 120 rebel fighters were killed in the raid near the town of Juba, said Ugandan army spokesman Major Shaban Bantariza.

But our correspondent says that many of those killed are likely to have been abducted children.

"We missed the LRA leader by a whisker, but we managed to capture some of his personal belongings, including his pips, a walkie talkie [and] a VHF radio," Major Bantariza said.

Under an agreement between the two countries, the Sudanese government allows Ugandan troops to operate within a limited area of southern Sudan.

But the Ugandan military has recently called on the Sudanese government to let it pursue the LRA rebels deeper inside southern Sudan, where the rebel leader has been located.

Major Bantariza said the attack had been made possible after the Sudanese army finally granted that permission.

There is currently an amnesty for the LRA rebels and concerns have been raised that prosecuting the LRA leadership would be unlikely to bring an end to the devastating war.




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