Rebels fighting a 17-year insurgency have killed at least 42 people in a spate of attacks on villages in northern Uganda during the last four days, an army spokesman said on Saturday.
The attacks in the Lira district began on Wednesday when the rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army launched dawn raids on Aranyi and Awapinyin, about 250km north of Kampala, killing 21 people with machetes, clubs and rifles, said Major Shaban Bantariza.
Another 11 people were killed on Friday in Aloi village, and 10 more were killed during attacks on villages in Moroto county during the last three days, he said.
Army officials said the insurgents have been ordered by their leaders to kill civilians in retaliation for the killing of a senior member of the rebel group last month.
The army killed Charles Tabuley in northeastern Uganda on Oct. 29 during a gun battle with the rebels.
"They are on a killing spree and want to kill as many people as possible. They have killed scores of people in the past few days," said Lieutenant Chris Magezi, an army spokesman based in Lira district.
The rebels, who rarely have contact with the outside world, were not immediately available for comment.
Led by Joseph Kony, who claims to have spiritual powers, the Lord's Resistance Army is a shadowy organization that has been fighting President Yoweri Museveni, a southerner, since he came to power in 1986 after a five-year bush war.
Friar John Fraser, a Roman Catholic priest with the Comboni missionaries, said the rebels had attacked at least five villages since Wednesday, forcing more than 3,000 people to flee their homes.
The rebels have wreaked havoc across northern and northeastern Uganda, forcing an estimated 1 million people to flee their homes.
The group replenishes its ranks with children it abducts to use as fighters, porters or concubines.