BANGUI Ugandan Lords Resistance Army (LRA) rebels killed one soldier and wounded six others in an ambush of a Central African Republic (CAR) army convoy in the remote east, local and defense officials said on Tuesday.
Ugandan troops and U.S. Special Forces advisers are helping poorly trained and equipped local forces attempting to end one of the world's longest-running armed insurgencies, which has killed thousands of civilians across four African nations.
The four-truck convoy was on its way to the town of Obo, near the porous eastern borders with South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo, when it was attacked by rebels on Monday.
"They fell into the LRA ambush 177 km from (Obo). One was killed and six were seriously wounded and have just been evacuated," local government official Albert Boris Mbagalet told Reuters by telephone from Obo.
A defense ministry spokesman in the capital Bangui confirmed the attack and said the soldiers had been part of an advanced team meant to prepare the way for a larger, African Union-backed deployment planned for Wednesday.
"The ambushed soldiers were preceding a contingent of 500 other soldiers who were to take the road tomorrow for the official start of anti-LRA operations under the aegis of the African Union," Lt-Col Jean Ladawa told Reuters.
He declined to give further details for the planned operations.
Led by Joseph Kony, a self-styled mystic prophet, the LRA once sought to impose the Ten Commandments as the law of the land in their native Uganda.
Notorious for mutilating their victims and kidnapping children to use as fighters or sex slaves, the rebels were driven out of Uganda a decade ago, but have continued terrorize villagers across one of the most isolated swathes of Africa.
The rebels abducted 55 people, half of them girls, during raids on two villages in eastern CAR last week.
They currently operate in an area straddling northern Congo, South Sudan, and eastern CAR.
(Reporting by Paul-Marin Ngoupana; Writing by Joe Bavier; Editing by Michael Roddy)