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LRA captive breastfeeds 4 rescued babies

By Vision Reporter

Added 25th January 2009 03:00 AM

WITH a baby in one hand and a gun in the other, one-year-old Anek’s father was shot dead as he fired at the UPDF, leaving the infant with a bullet in the leg.

WITH a baby in one hand and a gun in the other, one-year-old Anek’s father was shot dead as he fired at the UPDF, leaving the infant with a bullet in the leg.

By Cyprian Musoke

WITH a baby in one hand and a gun in the other, one-year-old Anek’s father was shot dead as he fired at the UPDF, leaving the infant with a bullet in the leg.

The army yesterday said Anek was rescued after his father, lieutenant Okello Patak and nine other rebels were killed in an exchange of fire with the LRA insurgents during Operation lightning thunder.

Anek is one of four babies who were shown to journalists yesterday at the Chieftaincy of military intelligence (CMI) offices in Kitante, Kampala after their rescue during the ongoing operation to flush out Joseph Kony’s rebels from the Garamba jungles in the DR Congo.

Anek, together with three other babies, is being breastfed by her 21-year-old step-mother Jackie Apio, who looks as helpless as the babies.

Apio is the biological mother of one-year-old Aciro. “Because of  the circumstances, I have to breastfeed the four of them. Their parents fled during the bombardment of Kony’s camp Swahili,” she told journalists yesterday.

Apio was abducted in 2002 by the Gilba brigade, and was made to marry Okello while in the bush.
CMI boss Brig. James Mugira, who addressed the press briefing together with army spokesman Felix Kulayigye, said: “One of our mission was to rescue women, children and the abducted. We have started.”

He put the number of rescued people who have been flown out of Congo at 18.

The joint military operation that brings together the UPDF, the Sudanese Peoples Defence Army (SPLA) and the Congolese army FARDC, was launched on December 14 to rout out the Lord’s Resistance Army from Garamba.

Also paraded were two sergeants, Peter Okot and James Onen, who surrendered to the joint forces after the attack on camp Swahili.

“After the attack on Garamba, we all ran away. We later decided to come back and surrender to the UPDF. We have fought for many years and gained nothing, so we started looking for a way out,” Okot said.

Mugira said most rescued civilians were Congolese abducted by Kony. They were handed over to the Congolese authorities.

He said Ugandan abductees fear to hand themselves over to the Congolese authorities, fearing that the Congolese civilians would kill them for the LRA atrocities committed against the population.

Okot, the son of John Oling, was abducted in 1997 from Owiyi-nyima in Gulu district. He was 11 years old and was trained in Southern Sudan until his group crossed to Congo in 2006.

Onen was abducted in 1995 by Onen Kamdulu’s group in Lugore and was later taken to Tabuley in Southern Sudan for training before crossing into the DR Congo.

“I am now 25 years old. I was abducted when I was 12 years. The attack on Camp Swahili gave us an opportunity to come back home,” Onen said.

Kulayigye said the two men would be given amnesty and asked whether they want to be absorbed into the UPDF, go back to school or join civilian life after discussing their fate.

The babies are to be taken to charity homes, as the army works together with humanitarian agencies to trace their relatives, Kulayigye explained.

LRA captive breastfeeds 4 rescued babies

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