* Troops to advise region governments in fight against LRA
* Troops expected to boost intelligence gathering
* Rebel leader Kony wanted by ICC (Adds Congolese government reaction)
By Justin Dralaze
KAMPALA, Oct 15 (Reuters) - Residents and rights groups said U.S. troops
being sent to Uganda would give a fresh impetus to the fight against Lord's
Resistance Army rebels accused of murder and kidnapping children and
capturing their leader.
The rebel group, which has waged a brutal insurgency for nearly 20 years,
was ejected from northern Uganda in 2005 and has since roamed remote jungle
straddling the borders of Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Central
On Friday, President Barack Obama said he was sending about 100 troops to
help and advise government forces fighting the LRA across Central Africa.
Obama -- who has denounced the LRA as an "affront to human dignity" -- said
the troops would serve as trainers and advisers in the efforts to hunt down
rebel leader Joseph Kony and would not be involved in combat except in
"I think it is a good move because ... this will be a supplement to enforce
the Ugandan UPDF (Uganda People Defence Forces) to make sure that Kony is
put totally down and he faces justice for the crimes he has committed,"
Medie Sebuliba, a Kampala resident, said.
The LRA is known for chilling violence including hacking body parts off
victims, the abduction of young boys to fight and young girls to be used as
Attempts to negotiate peace failed in 2008 after Kony, who is wanted by the
International Criminal Court, refused to sign a deal to bring an end to the
Congo's minister for communications said U.S. troops had already been
helping Congolese forces, but it had probably not been enough so additional
assistance with logistics and training would be a bonus.
"Most of these (regional) armies are used to classical fighting, (but) the
LRA is of a different nature," Lambert Mende told Reuters by telephone.
"No one can say that (will happen for sure), but I think it will be more and
more difficult for them to operate as they were doing before."
This optimism was shared by Friar Benoit Kinalegu, a civil society worker
who follows LRA activity in Congo's northern province of Orientale.
"The biggest problem is not the number of troops on the ground, the biggest
problem is the co-ordination of military intelligence," he told Reuters by
The LRA are still launching sporadic attacks in Congo's semi-arid north, but
with Kony rumoured to be in CAR and the Congolese troops receiving training
from the U.S. military, the situation is improving, he said.
Although the group is thought to number just a few hundred, its mobility and
the difficulties of the terrain have made them difficult to tackle.
Kinalegu says he is hopeful that more engagement from the United States and
better planning could bring an end to the LRA threat.
"It's been a wish of mine for a long time," he added.
Kony is from the Acholi ethnic group, which has borne the brunt of the LRA
insurgency and welcomed the U.S. move.
"We the people of Acholi who have been the victims of this war, we have
clearly stated that we don't condone impunity, we don't support activities
of rebellion by Kony," chairwoman of the Acholi Parliamentary Group Beatrice
Atim, told Reuters. (Additional reporting by Jonny Hogg in Kinshasa; Writing
by David Lewis and George Obulutsa)
C Thomson Reuters 2011 All rights reserved
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Received on Sun Oct 16 2011 - 15:06:19 EDT