Ugandan troops have killed at least 15 former rebels from the Central African Republic (CAR) after mistaking them for fighters of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), police say.
The Ugandan soldiers were hunting down members of the Ugandan rebel group, and in the violent clashes, the former members of the CAR’s Seleka rebellion fled, leaving behind weapons, equipment, uniforms and shoes, a police official in Bangassou, the main town in the Nzako region, told AFP news agency on Friday.
“Fifteen ex-Seleka members were killed in a clash with the Ugandan army in the village of Kono” on Monday, the police official said.
No exact toll was given, but several Ugandans also died in the violence, he said.
Long driven out of Uganda, LRA fighters now roam the forest regions of CAR, Sudan, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Meanwhile, the CAR has been gripped by violence since the mainly Muslim Seleka alliance seized power in a March 2013 coup led by Michel Djotodia.
Splinter groups of Seleka rebels later went rogue, embarking on a campaign of killing, raping and looting.
Djotodia, now in exile in Benin, was replaced as president by interim leader Catherine Samba Panza in January after failing to stop the bloodshed.
Despite the presence of African and French peacekeepers, the country remains deeply unstable.
Ugandan troops have been deployed in CAR since 2008 at CAR’s request to take part in the search for Joseph Kony, LRA rebel chief, who launched a rebellion in Uganda two decades ago.
He is wanted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague, along with fellow top commanders, on war crimes and crimes against humanity charges including murder, sexual slavery and using child soldiers.