Friday, December 19, 2008



December 18 2008

They found traces of blood, burnt out huts and signs of human activity but no sign, whatsoever, of LRA rebel leader Joseph Kony.

UPDF Special Forces today arrived at the camps destroyed by Sunday’s bombing in the jungles of the Democratic Republic of Congo but could neither give details of casualties or the whereabouts of the rebel fighters.

Not even the commando unit of the UPDF special forces, the first military element to enter Kony’s command post at Camp ‘Kiswahili’, about 90km North of Dungu in the vast Garamba jungle, could trace the whereabouts of the LRA rebel leader, according to various military officers who spoke but declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter.

No evidence
“Our ground troops from the commando unit reached the biggest LRA camp. They have not found any bodies or wounded persons although there is evidence that a considerable number was wounded or killed at the scene during the air strikes,” Capt. Chris Magezi, the spokesman for the UPDF operation code-named Operation ‘Lightning Thunder’ said. He said nine sub-machine guns and four anti-personnel mines were recovered.

The spokesman said, the time between the air strikes and the time the ground troops reached the scene, there was likelihood the rebels carried away the dead or wounded and concealed them.

The army could not explain how rebels under intense attack would find time to conceal bodies or carry away the wounded, raising speculation that UPDF propaganda may be at work.

But Defence State Minister Ruth Nankabirwa said those who have doubts about the raid should wait for the pictures of the attack, including the dead.

“As much as we are eager to tell Ugandans the number of casualties, we are constrained to do so because the camps were completely destroyed and people were killed,” the minister said.

Despite the assurances, the practice after military operations is to take the press to the scene to record first hand accounts other than depending on pictures or information supplied by the military.

Peace deal

But Ms Nankabirwa said the essence of the strikes is to put pressure on Kony to come out and sign a peace deal, if he is still alive.

“Since we went in, he has not engaged our troops. We are just hitting him, he does not respond,” she added.

The commandos under Maj. Noel Mwesigye, aboard the military helicopters were parachuted in the radius of between five to 10km from the camp and they crawled into the deserted expanse.

Capt. Magezi said in the camp the forces found guns, explosives, a generator, granaries stuffed with food, saucepans, clothes and other personal effects.

But like Army and Defence spokesman Paddy Ankunda, Capt. Magezi could not say whether Kony was in the camp at the time of the attack.