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[Published: Tuesday February 10 2009]

Push on LRA rebels 'catastrophic'

Doruma, DR Congo, 10 Feb-(ANA)-An offensive against Ugandan rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo has been "catastrophic" for civilians, the UN humanitarian chief has said.

John Holmes was speaking after visiting Doruma, in the north-east, where at least 900 people have recently been killed by the Lord's Resistance Army.

The LRA has increased attacks since forces from Uganda, South Sudan and DR Congo began an offensive in December.

But Mr Holmes said the operation must continue against the rebels.

Countries from Uganda to the Central African Republic have suffered 20 years of terror inflicted by the LRA and tens of thousands of children have been abducted to be fighters and sex slaves.

The UN head of humanitarian affairs is due to end a four-day visit to DR Congo by meeting President Joseph Kabila and UN peacekeeping officials.

Last week, the UN force, known as Monuc, dismissed claims by humanitarian organisation Medecins Sans Frontieres that it was ignoring bloodshed in the north-east of DR Congo, near Sudan's border.

The LRA insists the International Criminal Court must drop warrants of arrest for its leader Joseph Kony and his top commanders before they can sign a peace deal, which has been on the table since last year. (ANA)

FA/ANA/10 February 2009---

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