, BANGUI, Jun 16 – At least 16 people have been killed during clashes between rebels of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and villagers in Central African Republic, a military source said late on Saturday.
LRA fighters attacked two villages in the central mining region of Bria on Thursday, initially killing six people and wounding about 10 others as they looted houses, said the source.
“The rebels were pursued and caught by villagers armed with rifles… who killed four of them,” the source added.
The LRA fighters responded with a fresh attack during which they killed six more people, who they decapitated, placing their heads on tree trunks, he said.
The region has suffered regular attacks from fighters of the LRA and other rebel groups.
After the Seleka rebel coalition ousted president Francois Bozize in a March coup, interim leader Michel Djotodia vowed to put an end to LRA incursions.
The LRA, a Ugandan force set up by Joseph Kony, has killed more than 100,000 people during a reign of terror in Central Africa over the past 25 years, UN leader Ban Ki-moon said last month.
It is also blamed for the abduction of between 60,000 and 100,000 children, many of whom have been forced to fight as child soldiers, he said in a report on the region.
Kony, a former church altar boy, originally launched an uprising against the Ugandan government in the 1980s. His group has since staged attacks in several countries.
He is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and is believed to be hiding in jungles on the border between Sudan, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Central African Republic.
But conflict in the region has brought the international hunt for Kony to a near standstill.
The group is notorious for the brutality of its attacks and has been held responsible for the rape, murder and mutilation of civilians.
Children, as well as being forced to fight for the group, have also been used as sex slaves.