Wednesday, 3 September 2003

Kampala (Fides Service) – “Father Lawrence Oyuru is the latest of the countless victims of this war forgotten by everyone” Archbishop John Baptist Odama of Gulu, northern Uganda, tells Fides Service with regard to the death of Father Lawrence Oyuru, parish priest of Ochero in the diocese of Soroti, killed on 1 September in an ambush staged by the Lord Resistance Army rebels LRA. In the attack on a local bus twenty four other passengers were also killed.
“Soroti diocese has been subjected to similar attacks for a month now” Mgr Odama says, “road blocks and ambushing are the rebels’ main system of spreading terror and death among the innocent civilians”. Soroti lies 150 km east of Gulu, an where the LRA guerrillas previously focussed their attacks. This move towards Soroti is new and we fail to understand the reason” the Archbishop affirms.
The Lord’s Resistance Army, formed of mostly Acholi tribesmen, has been fighting since 1986 the Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni who took power in that year overthrowing a military junta made up mostly of Acholi men. The former militia of the ethnic group, taking refuge in Sudan formed various guerrilla groups one of them being the LRA. Besides being an ethnic group the LRA is also based on ideology of religious syncretism mixing elements of Christianity and Islam with those of traditional African religions. Aware of this, local religious leaders have taken an active part n promoting talks with the rebels to restore peace. Members of Catholic Church have often been a victims of LRA violence. We recall that on May 11 this year the rebels kidnapped a group of seminarians from Lachor seminary, and many priests have been among the number of those killed by the rebels in recent years. In March this year the LRA declared a cease fire but it never came in force. LM (Fides Service 3/9/2003 EM lines 30 Words: 344)