Ugandan troops have killed at least 15 former rebels from the Central African Republic (CAR) after mistaking them for fighters of the notorious Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), police said on Friday.
“Fifteen ex-Seleka members were killed in a clash with the Ugandan army in the village of Kono in the Nzako region” of the Central African Republic on Monday, said a police official at Bangassou, the main town in the area.
The Ugandan soldiers were hunting down members of the Ugandan rebel group, and in the violent clashes, the former members of the Central African Republic’s Seleka rebellion fled, leaving behind weapons, equipment, uniforms and shoes, the police official said.
No exact toll was given, but several Ugandans also died in the violence, he added.
DISPLACED LRA FIGHTERS
Long driven out of Uganda, LRA fighters now roam remote forest regions of the CAR, Sudan, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Meanwhile, deeply impoverished Central Africa has been gripped by crisis since the mainly Muslim Seleka alliance seized power in a coup led by Michel Djotodia in March last year.
Splinter groups of Seleka rebels later went rogue, embarking on a campaign of killing, raping and looting.
Djotodia, now in exile in Benin, was replaced as president by interim leader Catherine Samba Panza in January after failing to stop the bloodshed.
Despite a French-led international peacekeeping presence, the country remains deeply unstable.
Ugandan troops have been deployed in the CAR since 2008 at Bangui’s request to take part in the search for LRA rebel chief Joseph Kony, who launched a rebellion in Uganda two decades ago.
He is wanted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague, along with fellow top commanders, on war crimes and crimes against humanity charges including murder, sexual slavery and using child soldiers.