By Chris Ochowun and Dennis Ojwee
THE army has withdrawn over 15,000 troops from the gazetted areas for a ceasefire declared by the President.
The truce with the Lordâ€™s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels is to pave way for talks to end the northern insurgency.
The troops will now guard displaced peoplesâ€™ camps, schools and roads.
An army spokesman, Lt. Paddy Ankunda, said in a statement yesterday, â€œWe are withdrawing all our troops from the 300sq. mile area covering Patiko, Atyak, Atanga and Palabek so rebels can move freely.â€
The withdrawal follows President Yoweri Museveniâ€™s declaration of a seven-day ceasefire with the LRA to talk peace, in order to end the 18-year-long rebellion.
Rebel leader Joseph Konyâ€™s whereabouts are not known, but his deputy Vincent Otti has reportedly started moving towards the designated areas with over 100 fighters.
The areas include the western parts of Gulu from Nimule, along river Unyama, to Patiko Bridge and to the east, along river Aswa from Mugali to the confluence of Abera and aswa rivers. To the south is Unyama-Patiko bridge, Ajulu and Omot to Abera and Aswa rivers.
In Pader district, the designated areas are from north of Juba bridge-old Kitgum road, river Nyadyang to river Pager in Aswa ranch. In Kitgum the designated areas are west of Beyogoya, Lugwar, Padwat, Palacere and Adodi stretch and in Sudan the forces can gather in the areas of Panyikwara and Owiny Kibul but with the knowledge of the Sudan government and the SPLA.
An Intelligence chief, Col. Charles Otema Awany, said rebels moving towards gazetted areas would not be attacked. The army said the LRA on Tuesday, two days after commencement of the ceasefire, reportedly infiltrated some areas of Lalogi, Bar-Dege and Paicho and tortured and abducted an unknown number of civilians, despite the ceasefire.