Uganda army says troops kill 38 rebel fighters

Wed Mar 28, 2007 11:53am BST

KAMPALA, March 28 (Reuters) - Ugandan troops killed 38 rebels in a four-hour gunbattle after tracking the fighters to their mountain base near the border with Democratic Republic of Congo, a military spokesman said on Wednesday.

The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) were blamed for bombings and massacres in the late 1990s, and Uganda's army says they have regrouped in the Congo jungle beyond Uganda's Ruwenzori Mountains and recently began recruiting child soldiers.

"We tracked them on Monday and discovered a secret base where we engaged them, killing 34 on the spot," said Lieutenant Tabaro Kichoncho, army spokesman for western Uganda.

He said four other guerrillas were killed earlier on Monday, and four taken prisoner during the clash in Bundibugyo district.

No children were among the dead, he added, but a senior ADF commander, Bosco Isiko, was killed. Isiko was on a regional list of individuals wanted for rebel activities.

The ADF, a mix of Islamist and secular guerrillas, began fighting the government in 1996, claiming elections held that year were rigged. They mostly attacked civilian targets.