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Uganda rebels in fresh truce call

Joseph Kony (photo: November 2006)
Joseph Kony's force has spread terror across the region

The embattled Ugandan rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) have appealed for a ceasefire, amid a joint offensive against the group.

LRA representatives delivered a letter to a UN mediator in Mozambique over the weekend calling for a truce.

Forces from Uganda, South Sudan and DR Congo attacked the LRA in mid-December, after peace talks failed.

Since the joint offensive, the LRA has been accused of massacring at least 400 civilians in north-eastern DR Congo.

The LRA denies responsibility for the attacks, which including the killing of at least 40 people killing in a church near Doruma the day after Christmas.

Countries from Uganda to the Central African Republic have suffered from 20 years of raids by the LRA.

Back to the table?

LRA spokesperson David Matsanga led a delegation over the weekend to deliver a letter to the UN envoy trying to end Uganda's conflict, ex-Mozambique President Joachim Chissano, in Maputo.

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Mr Matsanga told the BBC's Network Africa programme: "The message is very clear: The LRA are interested in peace, that's why the LRA want a ceasefire... we are calling for a dialogue."

"The military operation has caused more deaths of civilians and other people. Therefore we must call an end to this military operation and we go back to the table."

The LRA letter was also addressed to the leaders of Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, South Sudan, the Africa Union's chairman and the UN secretary general, said Uganda's New Vision newspaper.

According to the daily, the LRA said in its letter that the call for a truce was based on the past failure of the army to defeat them, rather than because it was reeling from the operation.

Mr Chissano said last month that he backs the offensive - codenamed Operation Lightning Thunder - against the LRA on the grounds it might force Mr Kony to sign a peace deal, which he has so far failed to do.

The LRA insists the International Criminal Court must drop warrants of arrest for Mr Kony and his top commanders before they can sign the peace deal.

The rebels are blamed for abducting children and forcing millions to flee.

Correspondent say Mr Kony's force is relatively small - about 650 strong - but the difficulty is that when it is hit, it scatters then regroups.

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FROM OTHER NEWS SITES
Washington PostLRA rebels in Congo turned more deadly by offensive - 2 hrs ago
UPI U.N.: Lord's Resistance Army slays 537 - 7 hrs ago
New Vision LRA rebels kill 22 in Congo raids - 23 hrs ago
Los Angeles Times Uganda's conflict spreads to Congo, where LRA rebels massacre villagers - 67 hrs ago
Council On Foreign Relations Cornering A Killer In Africa - 09 Jan 2009
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