KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) – Ugandan rebels fighting an 18-year insurgency in northern Uganda have killed dozens of civilians in southern Sudan in the past week, church and Sudanese rebel officials said Saturday.

Lord’s Resistance Army fighters killed the civilians in villages near Kapeota, 466 miles south of Khartoum, the Sudanese capital, said Rev. Paul Yugusuk, head of the Anglican church in Lomega, near Kapeota.

“It is true that the LRA killings of civilians have been going on and are intensifying. I cannot tell the exact number of people killed this week but in one village we find five dead bodies, in another we find 17, and in another you may find 20,” Yugusuk told The Associated Press from the border town of Nimule.

“What I am sure of is that in the past one to three weeks, they have killed well over 100,” he said.

Lord’s Resistance Army rebels rarely talk to journalists and could not be reached for comment.

The Ugandan insurgents claim to be fighting to overthrow Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. But the force mostly attacks civilians to steal food and abduct children for use as fighters or concubines.

They are believed to have bases in southern Sudan, and have repeatedly launched attacks on Sudanese civilians, reportedly killing scores of people in attacks in June.

On Friday, Charles Barnaba Kisanga, an official of the Sudanese rebel group, the Equatoria Defense Forces, said the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels killed dozens of civilians in villages near Kapeota and took 2,000 head of cattle.

“EDF forces were unable to intercept those LRA looters because of the remoteness of the villages from our forces,” Kisanga said in a statement.

The Equatoria Defense Forces, allied to the main Sudanese rebel group, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, is based in Sudan’s Eastern Equatoria state where the attack took place. It is fighting a separate war against Sudan’s government.

Ben Parker, spokesman for the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan, said in Nairobi Saturday that he had not received reports of killings of civilians by the Ugandan rebels possibly because the attack was done in a remote area.

Sudan at one point did back the Ugandan rebels. But in recent years, the Sudanese claim to have cut off their aid to the Ugandan insurgents. In 2002, Sudan gave the Ugandan army approval to launch attacks on Lord’s Resistance Army bases in southern Sudan.

But Ugandan officials in recent months have said they believe the Sudanese government is still supporting the Lord’s Resistance Army.

At least 1.6 million people in northern Uganda have been displaced by the fighting between the Ugandan military and Lord’s Resistance Army, with most living in camps repeatedly subject to rebel attack.

AP-ES-07-24-04 1310EDT

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