GULU- Tears of joy flowed on Friday at Gulu Airfield as a Lord’s Resistance Army former captive, Sgt Peter Kidega, 33, regained his freedom after 13 years. Kidega, escaped in October last year and reported to the UPDF base in the Central African Republic (CAR) late December last year.
He was abducted alongside three other relatives from Karumukal village, Kalongo Sub-county, Agago District, in January 2003. He was in Senior Two.
In an interview with Sunday Monitor on Friday upon return, Kidega said: “Being Kony’s signaller, I had the opportunity to escape with several others. I first remained behind, played around with the signals until I made sure we could not be traced.”
“As we escaped, our fellows chased after us, we were intercepted and one of our colleagues was killed in the shooting, but I managed to escape with others though through different directions,” he added.
Kidega said he was able to reach Samondja in CAR where the UPDF picked him up for safety.
Gulu District chairperson Martin Ojara Mapenduzi, who welcomed the former LRA, lauded the UPDF and US army for rescuing LRA returnees.
“We are grateful for this positive move for the returnees but we also task our government to commit itself to reintegrating those who return from captivity,” he said.
Capt John Kamanzi, the special investigations commander in CAR and South Sudan, who accompanied Kidega from CAR, said the UPDF is ready to give a positive reception to whoever has a chosen to defect from the LRA.
“We shall always protect them and make sure they return home since that is the mission that has kept us in these areas,” 4th Division army spokesperson, Lt Hassan Kato, said.
He said the joint task force of UPDF and US army has put more pressure on the LRA.
“Kony is now weak and has no food and capacity to return to Uganda,” he said. But he said the returnees were free to join the UPDF.
Last year, the UPDF and US army units were able to rescue a 24-year-old-woman, Concy Auma, a resident of Apaa in Amuru District, She was abducted in 2004.
The LRA war, that lasted for nearly 20 years led to the displacement of more than 1.5 million people into internally displaced persons camps, with tens of thousands losing their lives while women and children were abducted and turned into sex slaves.According to a report by LRA crisis tracker, more than 12 women and children were released from the LRA captivity in June 2016. In the same year, the LRA also abducted 344 people in CAR between January to June; constituting the highest figures since 2010.