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Uganda raiders release priests

Reports from Uganda say rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army have released two Italian priests who were abducted during an attack on a Church mission in the north of the country on Saturday.

An unknown number of Ugandan civilians also kidnapped during the raid are thought to have been freed as well.

According to the Ugandan army, two rebels were killed when a group of at least 100 attacked the mission near the town of Gulu.

The rebels have been fighting the government for the past 16 years.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni recently named a government delegation to hold talks with the LRA, but the rebels have yet to name their own delegation.

The Italian ambassador in Uganda, Mauricio Teucci, named the priests as Ponsiano Velluto, 71, and Alex Pizzi, 63.

The two priests were kidnapped during a raid on the Opiti mission in Omoro county, about 40 km south-east of the regional capital Gulu.

Archbishop John Baptist Odama told the AFP news agency that the priests arrived back at their parish at 4:00 pm local time after walking 12 km. He said they had a message for him from the rebels.

The captives were reportedly used by the kidnappers to carry away looted telecommunications equipment and food.

Detention of missionaries a "terrible misunderstanding" (2/9/02)


16 Sep 2002