Joseph Kony’s hideout is destroyed in major offensive, says Uganda army spokesman.
“We still think that if there is an opportunity to re-open negotiations we will do it.”
“After yesterday’s attacks I have made contact with the LRA commanders asking them not to retaliate. We will still keep the door open and ask the government to stop their military attacks on LRA bases”
David Matsanga, chief negotiator for the LRA
Joseph Kony, the leader of the LRA, is believed to have been hiding in the Garamba region.
“What Ankunda has told us is that Kony was not captured during the attacks on the camps, but that women and children were rescued,” Yvonne Ndege, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Kenya, Uganda’s eastern neighbour.
“He called the attack an attempt to break the Lord Resistance’s Army … This attack by forces from Uganda, DR Congo and Southern Sudan could be the beginning of all-out war against Kony.”
He has refused to sign the final peace deal with Kampala because of warrants against him and his lieutenants by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.
Kony and his soldiers have raped, mutilated and murdered civilians, as well as recruited child soldiers, the court alleges.
‘Protest to UN’
David Matsanga, the chief negotiator for the LRA, said that the organisation has protested to the United Nations over the joint raids.
“It is a regrettable act by the government to take arms when we have negotiated a good agreement for two-and-a-half years,” he told Al Jazeera.
“After yesterday’s attacks I have made contact with the LRA commanders asking them not to retaliate. We will still keep the door open and ask the government to stop their military attacks on LRA bases.”
Communication had been established with Kony after the raids on the camps, Matsanga said.
“He wants to pursue peace and wants our people to regain their dignity and to have their share of national economy. He has not refused to sign, he needs clarifications.”
Politicians in northern Uganda, which has seen the worst fighting in the country’s civil war, criticised the raid.
“Attacking them yesterday is a double crime. They are now killing people that they failed to protect,” Livingstone Okello, who chairs the Acholi parliamentary group, a coalition of politicians from northern Uganda, said.
Many of the LRA fighters had been conscripted into the movement by force because the government has not provided protection to local civilians, Okello said.
|The LRA has been accused by the International Criminal Court of using child soldiers [AFP]|
“My position is still concern for the abducted,” Jimmy Akena, another MP from the region, said.
“Every family who has lost a child through abduction in this war is clinging onto the hope that their child may be alive in the bush.
“So today I am feeling for the parents who are worried, because this attack may have killed their child.”
Tens of thousands of people have been killed and nearly two million people have fled their homes during two decades of fighting between Kony’s LRA and the Ugandan government.
The country’s civil war has burned at a lower level since a peace process was launched in 2006 but Kony and his commanders have reportedly committed atrocities in neighbouring countries since.