16 Oct 2011

US troop plan welcomed in Uganda

1:05 pm on 16 October 2011

Residents and rights groups in Uganda said US troops being sent to the country would give a fresh impetus to the fight against rebels accused of murder and kidnapping children.

The Lord's Resistance Army 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 areas straddling the borders of Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Central African Republic.

On Friday, US president Barack Obama said he was sending about 100 troops to help and advise government forces fighting the LRA across Central Africa.

Congo's minister for communications, Lambert Mende, said US 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.

Residents and a rights group told the Reuters news agency the plan was a good move.

President Obama said the US 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 self-defence.

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 sex slaves.

Attempts to negotiate peace failed in 2008 after Joseph Kony, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court, refused to sign a deal to bring an end to the killing.