Some 3,000 Ugandan soldiers have begun pulling out of northeast Congo after a three-month offensive against the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).
A Uganda-led attack that began in mid-December has so far failed to net LRA leader Joseph Kony or two of his deputies, wanted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court (ICC). The rebels have killed more than 900 people in reprisals.
“All of our soldiers are pulling out of the mission area … our colleagues in Congo will continue,” Lieutenant-General Ivan Koreta, deputy chief of defence forces, told reporters.
“We’ll keep on sharing intelligence,” he said late on Sunday at an airport 40 km (25 miles) from the capital.
Koreta said he expected Uganda’s two brigades or some 3,000 troops to withdraw completely within eight days and that Ugandan soldiers would not enter the Democratic Republic of Congo to help Kinshasa’s soldiers battle Kony.
There had initially been some confusion over the timetable of Uganda’s pullout. Uganda said the mission had been extended indefinitely, but Congo denied that.
Critics say there is little to celebrate since the Ugandan offensive has failed to capture or kill Kony, who has waged a two-decade insurgency against the government.
Rebel fighters are known for slashing off lips and limbs in a war that has killed tens of thousands of people and destabilised a large area of central Africa.