July 9, 2009 / 4:39 PM / 10 years ago

Ugandan LRA rebels capture 80 in Congo -U.N. radio

KINSHASA, July 9 (Reuters) - Ugandan rebels kidnapped about 80 people during a raid earlier this week on a remote village in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, United Nations-backed radio reported on Thursday.

The raid is the latest by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), which continues to terrorise Congolese civilians despite a U.S.-backed multinational strike on them late last year aimed at ending one of Africa’s longest-running insurgencies.

LRA fighters entered the village of Bayule, in Congo’s northeastern Bas-Uele district, in the early hours of Tuesday morning, Radio Okapi reported, citing a local priest.

“They looted the chapel. They seized around 80 people,” Samuel Migodo, vicar of the Bondo diocese, told Radio Okapi.

“Unfortunately they are now headed towards (the nearby village of) Ango. We fear that the population of Ango may by attacked by them”, he added.

Provincial government spokesman Jean-Claude Esouka and Francois Mboni, of the U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said they had been informed of the attack but could not give any further details.

U.N. peacekeepers have tried to help Congo’s fragile army protect civilians in the aftermath of the Ugandan-led attack on the LRA, which was launched in December with logistical and intelligence support from the United States.

The operation failed to capture any of the LRA leaders who are wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes. But the rebels have been able to launch reprisal attacks, killing over 1,000 people and capturing hundreds more.

The rebels have been based in Congo since late 2005 after 20 years of rebellion in northern Uganda, during which some 2 million people were displaced. (Reporting by Thomas Hubert; writing by David Lewis; Editing by Charles Dick)

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