UPDF still silent on dead soldiers in Central Africa

Monday June 14 2010

By Risdel Kasasira & Alex Atuhaire

Kampala

The army has remained silent, close to a week after reports emerged that fresh attacks from suspected Lord’s Resistance Army rebels in the Central African Republic had left more than 10 UPDF soldiers dead.

Sources in Central African Republic yesterday told Daily Monitor that the death toll of Ugandan soldiers had risen to 18, although the Army and Defence spokesman, Lt. Col. Felix Kulayigye, said he knew nothing about the attack. “I am not aware,” Lt. Col. Kulayigye said yesterday when asked about the reports.

The sources identified one of the dead as lieutenant from Kazo in Kiruhura District who was commanding a squad of 40 soldiers at the time of his death. Yesterday, mystery about the killers also grew when a source told Daily Monitor that a Sudanese militia reinforced by a powerful government in the region could be behind the attacks on the UPDF.

“They were around 300 heavily armed militias that attacked UPDF. LRA has no such capacity. The UPDF were few. They were patrolling before they were attacked and overpowered,” the sources said. Lt. Col. Kulayigye insisted he was not aware of the militia attack. “I don’t have that information,” he said.

It is said that after the attack, the bodies of the UPDF remained in the battlefield for three days before they were picked. Operation Lightning Thunder is commanded by Col. Peter Elwelu who reports to Brig. Charles Otema, the overall operations commander.

Reports indicate that there could be feuds at the UPDF tactical base in Nzara, on the Sudanese border, which could have affected operations. Two officers have reportedly been arrested due to conflicts at the tactical headquarters. Lt. Gen. Katumba Wamala, the Commander of Land Forces, under whose docket Operation Lightning Thunder falls, could not answer our repeated calls. However, last week Gen. Katumba Wamala sent a message via military radio and said the attack should be investigated.

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