December 15, 2002
The Ugandan Army claims to have driven Joseph Kony and his Lord's Resistance Army rebels out of Pader district and destroyed their hideouts. A rebel sergeant and section commander were captured and six rebels killed on the 9th, in the Kitgum District. Four captives were rescued and two submachineguns recovered in the same clash. The army had killed 16 LRA rebels in the north over the last week and rescued about 70 captives. The rebels fled to Gulu district, with soldiers on their heels.
However, the rebels struck back in the Gulu district. At 16.00 hours on 8 December, the Ugandan Army reported that four soldiers (including an unnamed Lieutenant) were killed and five wounded in an ambush on the Karuma-Pakwach Road at 4:00pm near the River Ayugi. The soldiers, traveling in by truck from Pakwach to Gulu, fired back and were able to drive through the ambush. The soldiers were lightly armed at the time of the attack, which gave the rebels an advantage. By the afternoon of the 9th, two rebels were confirmed killed during the encounter.
The army denied reports that a total of 11 soldiers (including some from the Presidential Protection Unit) had been killed in that attack. Unnamed Army and civilian sources said that among the dead was Lieutenant Rutemba of the PPU. Rutemba was part of President Yoweri Museveni's security detail returning from the Murchison Falls Park, where the President had joined tourists to enjoy the wildlife. The army claimed that whoever was giving higher figures was downplaying their successes against the rebels and boosting the morale of "the bandits."
These reports also said the 21st Battalion commander (Captain Kweri, who was oddly underranked to be commanding a battalion) was arrested on the evening of the 9th for allegedly failing to provide proper road security. The Karuma-Pakwach road has recently been one of the safest in northern Uganda, following the army's deployment. - Adam Geibel