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Uganda Deploys More Troops In Congo

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KAMPALA, Uganda (PANA) - Uganda is deploying more troops in the Democratic Republic of Congo to restore law and order in the troubled north-eastern region of Ituri where thousands of people have been killed in ethnic clashes since September.
"Deploy more forces to bolster both the rebel and Ugandan forces there in restoring law and order, disarm the protagonists and curtail inflow of arms from non-state actors like the Mai-Mai and agents of Kinshasa," the army said in a statement Tuesday.

It blamed the Kinshasa regime for using the eight months of clashes between the Hema and Lendu ethnic groups for "purposes of propaganda against Uganda."

The chief of military intelligence, Col. Henry Tumukunde, said in the statement that the working group of Kisangani-based rebel Rally for Congolese Democracy, Uganda and Hema-Lendu communities were looking into the land question.

The two-decade-old conflict is said to have begun when a Hema tycoon purchased land which was later found to contain gold deposits in Lendu area.

The Lendu ethnic group is said to have demanded that the man pays taxes or quits the land.

Between 5,000 and 7,000 people are believed to have been killed in the clashes and Ugandan soldiers have been accused of either not stopping the clashes or involvement in the conflict.

"The allegations by the DRC government that Uganda is fuelling and exacerbating the Lendu-Hema conflict is both baseless and ridiculous because the problem pre-dates UPDF (Uganda Peoples Defence Force) entry into Congo and is rooted in Congo's post-colonial misrule and distortions," Tumukunde said.

"Uganda's absolution from the wild accusations by the DRC government and its minions like ASADHO, which is purportedly the leading human rights' group in the DRC, is further exemplified by our clearance of journalists from the New York Times, Washington Post, Voice of America, who travelled to Bunia to report on the conflict," he observed.

But two Ugandan journalists who tried to make an independent visit to the area January were arrested and deported.

The army said mass killings happened 14 September, when 475 Hema were killed by the Lendu in Dhendro, 1 December, when 200 people were killed in Bambu and 1 January, with 416 more people killed in Blukwa.

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