AUGUST 3, 2010: UPDF Killed 400 LRA Rebels Last Year

UPDF Killed 400 LRA Rebels Last Year

SOURCE: New Vision

By Josephine Maseruka

Kampala — A total of 397 rebels of Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) were killed by the UPDF between July 2009 and June 2010, the commander of the land forces, Lt. Gen. Katumba Wamala, has said.

He added that during the same period, 123 rebels defected to the UPDF, 63 were captured, while 364 rifles (mainly AK47) were recovered.

"War is not a dance or tea party. We lost 32 combatants, while 86 were injured," Wamala said while responding to queries raised by members of the parliamentary committee on defence and internal affairs.

Officials from the defence ministry, led by state minister Jeje Odongo and the acting permanent secretary, Rosettie Byengoma, were appearing before the committee to defend the ministerial policy statement seeking Parliament's approval of the sh500.9b budget for the 2010/11 financial year. Wamala said hundreds of abductees had also been rescued.

He said 60% of these were Congolese, 35% Ugandans and 5% from the Central African Republic.

He explained to the committee, chaired by Kamba Saleh, that the UPDF had made remarkable achievements during the year in its operations against the LRA, in Karamoja during the disbarment exercise and in Somalia. He revealed that the army recovered 18,563 animals from cattle-rustlers, which were handed back to the owners.

"A total of 417 warriors were killed in the operation, while 55 UPDF officers lost their lives and 85 were injured." Wamala explained that 1,041 AK47 rifles were recovered with 85,000 rounds of ammunition.

On Somalia, Wamala noted that Uganda lost 26 peace-keepers in combat against the al-Shabaab and 68 were injured. "Last month, we suffered several attacks and we were compelled to defend our positions."

Wamala, however, declined to give figures of the al-Shabaab fighters who were either killed or wounded. He said two UPDF soldiers died and eight were injured during the fighting and were evacuated to Aga Khan hospital in Nairobi, Kenya.

"We have had no casualties in the last one week, but that does not mean the threat is over. We still need more troops deployed in Somalia, otherwise, we are overstretched." He assured Ugandans that the UPDF in Somalia had gained control over strategic positions which are now well guarded.

Johnson Mallinga (independent) hailed the disarmament exercise in Karamoja, saying "we have relative peace and we can sleep soundly." He, however, expressed concern over the Government decision to arm the Karatuna instead of establishing a barracks there.

"The Government is removing the guns from the Karimajong using one hand, while returning them to the Karatuna with another hand. This is of great concern to us."

Jeje Odongo defended the arming of the Karatuna, saying the disarmament exercise aimed at removing guns from wrong elements and that the Karatuna would only use the guns to defend the people.

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