The Ugandan government has accused the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) of planning for war through diamond and gold trade in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The LRA rebels fled last year to Garamba National Park in DR Congo, who has vast deposits of minerals, raising the concerns of analysts that, like other rebel groups, the LRA could use the proceeds from the trade to rebuild their war machinery.
According to sources, quoted by Sunday Vision, the army has received information that the LRA had joined the diamond and gold business in the area.
"There is no effective Congo force in the area and the chiefs who were involved in the mining now have to pay homage to the LRA. We have information that one of the LRA contacts has been dealing in gold," the sources said.
Intelligence sources said that security had intercepted information showing that the LRA was moving towards Koboko in West Nile and threatening to attack the area.
"Locals in the Garamba area have observed that the LRA units were moving closer to West Nile. It is estimated that they are about 60 km from Koboko, so they are moving in a belligerent manner," the sources said.
The Uganda People's Defense Forces Spokesperson, Maj. Felix Kulayigye, confirmed on Saturday that the LRA raided Acholi Bur in an attempt to steal food.
"This is not the only raid. They have carried out several raid within the period they themselves declared a ceasefire," he said.
On Thursday, one LRA unit under one Koyello attacked Ngukedi village and abducted seven people who had gone to cultivate their gardens.
"They abducted seven people. One of them escaped and reported to the UPDF detach, which responded and rescued five, while two were shot by the LRA," said the source.
Robert Kabushenga, the Uganda Media Center Director, however said that the developments would not affect the ongoing peace talks in Juba, southern Sudan.
"We are committed to the peace process and we have invested significant amount of time and resources in trying to pursue the peace option and offer the LRA a soft landing and we will pursue it to its logical conclusion," he said.
Sources said Dominic Ongwen, one of the five LRA commanders indicted by the International Criminal Court, had contacted the UPDF to surrender.
"They are trying to buy time and find a way of embarrassing the(Ugandan) government and blame it on the failure of talks and go away," added the source.
Several peace talks ended in vain during the last few years due to lack of confidence of both sides, though the latest Juba talks are seen a historic chance to end the two-decade conflict that has left tens of thousands of people dead and over 1.4 million homeless in northern Uganda.
(Xinhua News Agency August 14, 2006)