KINSHASA, 7 Oct 2005 (IRIN) - The 400 Ugandan rebels from the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) who in September sought refuge in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have been forced back across the border, a Congolese army spokesman said on Friday in Kinshasa.
"Faced with huge deployment of soldiers from the Congolese army the LRA rebels panicked and on Thursday fled the DRC from where they came," Jean-Willy Mutombo, spokesman for the armed forces chief of staff, said.
The rebels were on the run in southern Sudan about 160 km from the Ugandan border. When they crossed from Sudan into the DRC's remote Garamba National park, in Orientale's Haut Uele District, in September Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni threatened to invade DRC to capture them.
Uganda's defence minister, Amama Mbabazi, said that as of Thursday LRA deputy chief Vincent Otti was still in the Congo, some 90km north of Aba, in the country's northeast.
However, the military spokesman for the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC), Lt-Col Thierry Provendier, confirmed that the LRA had fled Congo for Sudan.
The Congolese army said it had deployed 3,000 troops to the area in the last few days. Provendier could only confirm that 500 had arrived but said that MONUC had been providing them with military support, including an attack helicopter for use in rescue and reconnaissance.
[On the Net: DRC-UGANDA: Kampala demands rebels' extradition, Kinshasa vows to disarm them: http://www.irinnews.org/report.asp?ReportID=49251 ]
GREAT LAKES: Kinshasa vows to resist any foreign invasion: http://www.irinnews.org/report.asp?ReportID=49316