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309 LRA Killed in Operation Lightning Thunder, UPDF claims

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The Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF) claim that it has killed 309 Lord's Resistance Army fighters since an offensive against the rebel bases in the Democratic Republic of Congo begun in December 2008.
Captain Ronald Kakurungu, the northern regional UPDF spokesperson, told a press conference in Gulu that that Operation Lightning Thunder, the name given to the offensive, also led to the capture of 35 rebels, the rescue of 566 abductees and the voluntary surrender of 76 fighters. He did not say how many of the 309 killed were child soldiers, who are forcefully conscripted to fight in the LRA.
Captain Kakurungu says Operation Lightning Thunder was a success, which he tributed not only to the UPDF, but also to the armies of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic and Sudan. He says UPDF troops will remain in those three countries until the LRA are completely wiped out of the region.
It is not clear under what agreement the UPDF continue to operate in the three foreign countries.
In March last year President Laurent Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo demanded the immediate withdrawal of the UPDF from his country. He said his army and UN peacekeepers in the region were capable of containing the LRA. A few days later, Ugandan soldiers who were part of Operation Lightning Thunder returned home.
Humanitarian organizations working in the LRA-affected areas however said large numbers of UPDF soldiers remained in the Congo and Sudan.
The same humanitarian organizations argued that Operation Lightning Thunder was miscalculated.
In December, two detailed reports by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the UN Mission in Sudan said the LRA killed 1,300 civilians and abducted 1,400 more since Operation Lightning Thunder started. The reports said the LRA was also responsible for the displacing 300,000 people.
The United Nations Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, John Holmes, called for stronger measures to protect civilians against attack the Lord's Resistance Army.

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