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Ugandan rebels mount cross-border raids in Central Africa - minister

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March 20, 2008 (BANGUI) — A Central African Republic defense minister said Thursday that armed rebels, identified by Uganda as Lord’s Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony and his men, had mounted cross-border raids on local stocks.

"There is no doubt that about 200 armed men entered the Obo district and began raiding locals’ possessions," Junior Secretary Jean-Francis Bozize told AFP.

"However, we can neither confirm nor deny that they are Lord’s Resistance Army fighters as some sources are saying.

"We are doing everything we can to shed light on this worrying development," he added.

"More than 100 men were taken hostage by the group to transport their spoils. According to our information, they were liberated as they returned to the Democratic Republic of Congo."

Uganda’s foreign minister, Oryem Okello, had told AFP Wednesday that they had "credible intelligence" that Kony was in the Central African Republic, near the Sudanese border, having been hiding in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Garamba forest.

Kony is the spiritual leader of the LRA, a group that has waged 20 years of war in northern Uganda and is notorious for having raped and mutilated civilians, forcibly recruited child soldiers and massacred thousands.

The ICC issued warrants in 2005 against five top LRA leaders, including Kony, for their role in one of Africa’s longest wars.

The Obo region, home to around 60,000 people, borders Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan, suffering frequent raids by rebel groups.

(AFP)

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