Hundreds Feared Killed in Sudan Attacks, Says Church

KAMPALA, Uganda, MAY 12, 2002 ( Ugandan rebels killed more than 470 Sudanese civilians, assaulting girls and women and burning down a half-dozen villages in a week of violence, a Catholic Church official in Sudan said.

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Rebels of the Lord´s Resistance Army (LRA) committed the alleged atrocities as they fled an offensive by Ugandan troops, said Jervasio Akot, a spokesman for the Diocese of Torit, quoted by the Associated Press.

The killings were carried out in several villages along the Imotong mountain range in the Eastern Equatoria region of southern Sudan, the statement said, adding that another 500 people had fled their homes in the area.

The rebels also torched six villages as they were fleeing a raid by the Uganda Peoples´ Defense Forces on their bases in the southern Sudan town of Katire, the statement said. It named the burned villages as Idiefe, Obeyok, Kubaya, Lotele, Lohui and Isuhak.

Torit Bishop Akio Johnson Mutek appealed to the international community «to come to the aid of these destitute people who are forced to desert their villages as they had just begun cultivating their crops,» said a statement quoted by Agence France-Presse.

Uganda and Sudan signed a pact in March allowing Ugandan troops to carry out operations against the LRA rebels, who launch raids from bases in southern Sudan.

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