Ugandan LRA rebel commander "Lt. Col" Okello Yape killed in southwest of Ri-Kwangba, DR Congo
March 11, 2009 KAMPALA, March 10 (Xinhua) --
A senior commander of Uganda's notorious rebel group, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), has been killed during the on-going joint military operation to wipe out the rebel group holed up in northeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
"Lt. Col" Okello Yape, whose role in the LRA is not yet clear, was killed in southwest of Ri-Kwangba, a remote border area in southern Sudan, according to a statement of the Uganda People's Defense Force (UPDF) on Tuesday.
The UPDF has called Yape's death as "another blow to the LRA" following the recent capture of "Col." Thomas Kwoyello, a senior rebel commander alleged ranking 4th in the rebel group.
Kwoyello, who was shot in the stomach and captured last week during the operations in southeast of Ri-Kwangba, has been transferred here for treatment.
Six more LRA fighters were killed during the weekend skirmish while three abductees were freed, the statement said.
The joint military operation was launched mid-December last year by UPDF with forces from DRC and southern Sudan to flush out the LRA after its leader, Joseph Kony repeatedly refused to sign an already negotiated peace agreement.
The offensive has, however, attracted some criticism due to its failure to prevent retaliatory attacks on civilians by the rebel group. UN and humanitarian agencies estimate that the rebel group has killed some 900 civilians since late last year.
Uganda President Yoweri Museveni, who is paying a working visit to the U.K. early this week, was quoted by a State House statement on Monday saying that the rebel leadership "has a chance to take advantage of amnesty if he stops fighting."
The rebel leadership, including Kony and two of his top commanders, are wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The LRA's two decade long insurgency has left tens of thousands of people killed and some two million uprooted in northern Uganda before it spilt into neighboring southern Sudan and DRC.