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World News

FACTBOX - Uganda's LRA rebels on killing spree

(Reuters) - Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels killed 189 people during three days of raids on villages in northeast Democratic Republic of Congo last week, a U.N. agency said on Monday, citing local officials.

Here are some details about the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels and their leader Joseph Kony:

WHAT HAS HAPPENED:

* Thousands of people have been killed and 2 million displaced during the 22 years of fighting between Kony’s rebels and the Ugandan government. The conflict has destabilised parts of oil-producing south Sudan and mineral-rich eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

* The U.N. humanitarian agency OCHA said on Monday that the latest killings were reported to have been carried out between December 25 and December 27 in Faradje, Doruma and Gurba villages by LRA fighters fleeing a two-week-old multinational military offensive.

* Uganda, Congo and South Sudan launched the joint assault on LRA bases in northeast Congo on December 14 after Kony again failed to sign a peace deal to end the fighting.

* A landmark truce had been signed in August 2006 and was later renewed. But talks brokered by south Sudan collapsed in April 2008 after Kony failed to sign the pact as planned.

* Mediators gave Kony until the end of November to give his final approval to the peace deal. However, he failed to sign and told traditional elders at the end of November he would not sign a deal until an international arrest warrant for him is scrapped.

* Kony is wanted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague for his role in a conflict that has destabilised a swathe of central Africa.

THE LRA AND A HUMANITARIAN CRISIS:

* Self-proclaimed mystic Kony began one of a series of initially popular uprisings in northern Uganda after President Yoweri Museveni seized power in 1986. But his tactics of kidnapping recruits and killing civilians alienated supporters.

* The LRA was infamous for abducting children for use as soldiers, porters and “wives.” Although there are no universally accepted figures, the children are believed to number many thousands. Some are freed after days, others never escape.

* Kony’s force was once backed by Khartoum as a proxy militia, although Sudan said it cut all ties with it. Kony quit his hideouts in south Sudan in 2005 for the Democratic Republic of Congo’s remote Garamba forest.

* Many northerners reviled the LRA for its atrocities, but also blamed Museveni for setting up camps for at least 2 million people as part of his counter-insurgency strategy, fuelling one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.

WHAT DOES KONY WANT?

* Kony has said he wants to rule Uganda by the Biblical Ten Commandments, but at peace talks his group also articulated a range of northern grievances, including the theft of cattle by Museveni’s troops and demands for more political power.

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